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Photo E. If. Smith. 

Kakua, a Bambala Chief. 
(See Vol. I. p. 77-) 

THE ^\ 














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ov8£i> atypaaroTepov iriXerixi voov avdpibiroLaiv. 






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List of Illustrations 



PART III— [continued) 


From Birth to Puberty . 


i. Pregnancy .... 


2. Birth .... 


3. Child Life .... 


4. Initiation .... 


The Relations of the Sexes 

1. Before Marriage . 

2. Restrictions upon Intercourse 

3. Sexual Attraction 

4. Betrothal . 

5. The Chiko . 

6. Marriage Ceremonies 

7. Polygyny 

8. Lubambo 

9. KUSENA . 

10. Adultery 

1 1. Rape .... 

12. Perversions 












l>qt >, 



Dynamism ..... 
i. The Theory 
2. Witchcraft .... 

The Doctrine of Souls 

i. Death and Funerary Customs 

2. The Destination of the Departed 

3. Metempsychosis 

4. Various Kinds of Ghosts 

5. Dreams 

6. Spirit Possession 

7. Reincarnation 

8. The Genius, or Guardian Spirit 

9. The Psychology of the Ba-ila 


The Divinities ..... 

1. Personal and Family Divinities . 

2. The Great Mizhimo : Communal Divinities 

3. BULONGO ..... 

The Supreme Being : Leza 






















Miscellaneous Notions . 
1. Reckoning Time 




Ideas about the World . 

Ideas about the Animals and Plants 

The Bakamipilwi 

Ideas of Colour 

Ideas of Number . 


The Ba-ila at Play 

i. Adult Games of Skill and Dexterity 

2. Children's Games . 

3. Legerdemain and Puzzles . 

4. Musical Instruments 

5. Singing and Dancing 

The I la Language .... 

1. Phonetics .... 

2. Word Formation 


Proverbs, Riddles, and Conundrums 

1. Proverbs ..... 

2. Riddles ..... 

3. Conundrums .... 


Folk-tales : Introduction 

Part i. Etiological or Explanatory Tales 
,, 2. The Adventures of Sulwe, the Hare 
,, 3. Tales of People and Animals 
„ 4. Tales of People — mostly Fools 









&h . 

I I 

I I 







of an Ant-hill 

Kakua, a Bambala Chief 

Four Ba-ila Children . 

Enjoying her Breakfast 

Girls carrying Water . 

A Young Nurse 

A Girl playing the Mantimbwa 

A Ba-ila Doll . 

A Group of Ba-ila Boys in fron 

Boys carrying Firewood 

A Scene at a Funeral . 

Three Mourners at a Funeral 

Cutting up an Ox at a Funeral 

A Group of Mourners . 

The Mabivabiva around a Grav 


The Grave of Sezongo II. at Nanzela 

Mupumani the Prophet 

In a Baluba Village 

A Feast in Honour of the Dead outside Chibaluma's Sacred Hu 

A Lwdnga and Grave-temple 

The Great Gateway with Small 

A Near View of the Sacred Enclosure at the Gateway 

The Grave of our Friend Mungalo 

A Liuanga and Grave-temple . 

The Chief, Kakua, and his Lwanga 

Offerings upon a Grave 

Shimunenga's Grove at Mala . 




Sacred Enclosure at each Side 




1 1 2 
1 20 
1 2 i 
1 27 



1 72 





Diagram of Time Reckoning . 

Playing Chisolo .... 

Diagram of Suntirfa Move 

A Plan of a Chisolo Game 

The Hunters and the " Lions " 

A Sham Lion Hunt : The Lion and His Victim 

A Sham Lion Hunt : The Hunters arrive on the Scene 

A Sham Lion Hunt : Attacking the Lion 

A Sham Lion Hunt : Rescuing the Lion's Victim 

A Sham Lion Hunt : Saved ! . 

A Sham Lion Hunt : The Hunters attacked by two Lions 

A Spear-throwing Competition 

Boys playing with Clay Oxen . 

Very much a Man 

The Game Ku lumamba hva mainza 

Playing Intuhtlu or Chombombo 

Boys playing the Banansakwe and Ingoane Game 

Boys playing the Game " In the Melon-patch " . 

Boys playing the Katantaile Game 

The Game Bwato 

Jeic de Patience 

Two Kinds of Katumbu, Musical Bow 

A Man playing the Budimba . 

Four Ba-ila Pianos 

Diagram of the Push-drum 

Man playing the Namalwa — " Push-drum 

The Kayanda Drum 

The Ingomantambwe and Indandala 

Ba-ila Women dancing 

The Band at a Dance . 

Ba-ila Women dancing : a Pas de Seul 

Lukendo, a Bambala Chief 

A Gang of Ba-ila Carriers 

A Mwila : a great Teller of Tales 



2 39 
















32 1 



PART III — {continued) 



I. Pregnancy 

To have children, and many of them, is one of the great 
ambitions of our natives. Any man will tell you that to 
leave children, especially sons, when he departs from this 
earth is one of the greatest desires of his heart. He who 
fails in this respect is regarded by others, and he regards 
himself, as something less than a man. When he dies 
they cut off his little finger and little toe, and enclose a 
piece of charcoal in his fist, before burying him. Their 
reason for doing this is obscure. They suppose that it will 
either prevent his being reborn, or if it fails to that extent, 
at least they will be able to recognise him by the absence 
of those members should he return to earth. To avoid 
this indignity it is incumbent upon every man to try every 
possible means to have children. Thinking that the fault 
is in his wife, if she fails to bear children after trying a course 
of treatment by the doctors skilled in that branch of medicine, 
he will either divorce her or marry other women. If still 
no offspring come he will be told that the fault is his own, 
and he also will seek drugs. If no favourable result follows 
he has to reconcile himself to disappointment and to the 
jokes, if not contempt, of his fellowmen and wives. A barren 
woman is also despised. They will say of her, " Wakatuluka 
izhadilo " (" She had her womb pierced," i.e. by too frequent 
illicit intercourse). Sometimes, when there is no result, the 
people of the husband and wife meet and offer a prayer to I 
Leza ; saying, " Give this child of ours a child." 

VOL. II b 


Sons are preferred to daughters, because through sons 
the family is continued, i.e. a man cannot be reborn oh 
earth through his daughter, only through his son. The 
children, sons and daughters, take the mother's clan name, 
but it is not her people, it is the father's people, that are 
born in her sons. Girls are regarded as riches only, i.e. as 
so many cattle to the credit of the clan's account. 

In the ordinary course of things a woman is expected 
to conceive very soon after marriage. If she goes three 
months without doing so, her people will seek medicine owa 
kwimita (" for conception "), and the doctor gives her a 
potion to drink each day. 

A woman accepts the sign of the cessation of the menses. 
She may not, if it is her first child, inform her husband of 
the fact. Nor may the husband ask his wife if such is the 
case. She goes home and tells her mother ; the mother 
tells the woman's father, who first sends to the husband 
asking for a spear or hoe or shell. By this the husband 
recognises what is in the wind, and gladly sends what 
is asked for. Then they tell him. The woman may tell 
her husband in subsequent pregnancies, but he is not 
allowed to mention the fact to others. The news is not 
told outside the family, except to the doctor, through fear 
that somebody by ill-practices may cause a miscarriage. 
Should any one break the custom by asking a woman if 
she is pregnant, and should a miscarriage follow, or the 
child die, that person has committed a great fault and has 
to pay damages. They say he or she has milomo mibiabe 
("evil lips"), and has bewitched the child. If any one 
asks the husband, he will deny his wife's condition ; even 
if it be evident to all he will profess ignorance. Nor may 
people mention the fact in conversation before the husband 
or any relation of the woman. 

The woman is taken to the doctor who is told of her 
condition. He prepares a charm which is put around her 
waist and gives her a small pot in which medicine has been 
placed. He then gives her various instructions as to her 
conduct during the time of pregnancy, warning her especially 
against those things and actions that are taboo. 

The woman is taboo : her condition makes her a source 


of danger to the community. Especially is she liable to 
injure .the new life developing within her womb. The 
husband, from his close connection with her, is also taboo. 
Strict rules are therefore laid down to avoid any evil con- 
sequences that may come from these dangerous persons ; 
above all, nothing must be done to prejudice the well-being 
of the unborn child. 

The injunction as to silence which we have already 
noted is for the good of the child. Other mitondo (" taboos ") 
are as follows. There are things she may not eat. Above 
all, blood is bad for her and bad for the child ; if she eats 
it she will suffer severely at her confinement and the child 
may die. She must therefore abstain from eating the flesh 
of animals, lest there be any blood left in it. The exception 
made is the flesh of hippopotamus, though why, it is hard 
to say, for the hippopotamus has plenty of blood. The 
barbel fish when fresh is taboo to her for the same reason, 
but may be eaten dried. 

There are some foods that are tonda to the husband as 
well. Neither husband nor wife may eat flesh of hartebeest, 
the reason given being that that animal gives birth to its 
young blind ; and if they eat of it their child will be born 

Neither of them, again, may eat makwelekwele, i.e. the 
flesh of an animal that has been torn and pulled about by 
birds. The reason given is that avhwe wazhoka mwifu 
bubona mbn bakwelakwela bazune (" when the child is about 
to come out it will return into the womb, just as the birds 
pull about the meat "). 

They must not eat the goose, lest the child should have 
a long neck like a goose. 

The wildebeest is said to occup}^ a long time in parturi- 
tion ; and the flesh of it is taboo to husband and wife lest 
by eating it they should cause a protracted confinement 
to the woman. 

Food cooked the day before and left over (called chidyo 
ch'ona or chidyo cha mulala) is forbidden lest the confine- 
ment be lengthy. 

The woman may not sleep in the daytime lest her child 
should be dull and sleepy-headed. 


She must be careful not to cross the spoor of a bushbuck, 
nor if she can avoid it must it cross hers ; in either case 
the result to the child will be fatal. This taboo applies also 
to a nursing mother. 

She must avoid looking upon unpleasant objects for 
fear of damaging her child. For instance, Mrs. Smith was 
examining once a hawk that had just been shot, when two 
women approached. One of them had no sooner caught 
sight of the dead hawk than she pushed the other (who 
was pregnant) away, saying, " Don't look ! Don't look ! ' 
and the woman ran away. 

It is tonda to both husband and wife to go and take a 
look into a house and then withdraw without entering. It 
is tonda for any one to do the same at the woman's door. 
The reason is that it may lead the child also to sumba, i.e. 
to act in a similar way when it comes to be born. And 
for either of them to go in and out of the hut as if not 
knowing their own minds, is also tonda, lest the child should 
act similarly in birth. 

Intercourse between husband and wife is not tonda 
during the early months of pregnancy. Indeed it is regarded 
as conducive to the child's welfare. During the last 
month or so, however, all this must cease lest the child be 
killed. As they say, " Ulamutulula a lubwebwe" ("He would 
pierce the child's fontanelle "). 

The woman is forbidden to have connection with other 
men, and any man who assaulted her would be liable to 
heavy damages. She may not sit on others' beds or stools, 
nor sit with bakwakwe ("her relations-in-law "), nor with 
her lover, nor may she sport with men. She is tonda. She 
on her part might do them mischief, and they might blight 
the unborn child. 

The husband watonda ku mwinakwe ("is taboo on account 
of his wife "). He, in her interest and in that of the child, 
may not have intercourse with other women, except his 
other wives if he is a polygamist, may not sit on other 
people's stools nor lie on their beds. 

Of a hunter it is said, " Mwinakwe wemita waleka kuyaya 
banyama kambo ka mamba " ("He stops killing game because 
of the wars"). Whether it means that by going hunting 


he will bring an injury upon the wife or the child, or whether 
the pregnancy of the woman means he will have no luck, 
is not clear to us ; but he finds a way out of the difficulty 
whichever it may be. Wachita busongo they say (" He 
acts wisely"). He goes out as usual and on reaching a 
place where the roads divide (a masanga a nzhila) he calls 
out, " Na mwinangu udimishi mukaintu n'ashale a munzhi 
akudima budio ; na mulombwana atuende, tukaweze " ("If 
my wife be pregnant of a woman let her (i.e. the child) 
stay at the village and hoe, if it be a man let us (i.e. he 
and the boy) go on the hunt "). Having said this he goes 
on and kills game : but if he does not say it he may not, 
or will not kill : as they say, "Pele atachita bobo udi mukaintu 
wemita tayaya munyama,pe" (" But if he did not act thus he 
who has a pregnant wife would not kill an animal "). 

Mulier pregnans vaginam distendere manibus conatur, 
quas suco aloarum inunguit. Os vaginae eo usque expandere 
iubetur dum pugnus suus facile inseri possit. She must 
also take care not to allow the cold to reach her, and to 
this end must always wear a piece of cloth or other covering 
between the legs. Unless this is done the child may die. 

In the fifth month the woman goes home and is given 
medicine. She is given an insungu (" medicine receptacle ") 
and a basket to cover it. A three-pronged stick (change-) 
of the mufumu tree is planted at the head of her bed and 
the insungu placed in the fork. Into the insungu is placed 
the medicine mixed with light beer [ibwantu), or, in the 
absence of light beer, with water. This insungu must 
never be left uncovered, but as soon as some of the medicine 
has been taken out of it the basket must be replaced over 
it. This medicine is tonda ; it must on no account be given 
to others, and is to be drunk by the husband and wife only. 
Should any one steal and drink it, uladitaya, i.e. he commits 
'buditazhi against the owners. The two continue to drink 
this medicine until the child is born ; its purpose is to give 
them both strength. The man is said to drink because 
shilwazhi sha mulumi shilakasha mukaintu kutumbuka 
(" diseases in the husband would prevent the woman from 
giving birth "). 

Other medicine is given to people outside, the purpose 


being thus stated : ati bakatole shilwazhi akatumbuke 
kabotu (" so that they may take away the diseases in order 
that the woman may give birth properly "). 

There is thus, in the thoughts of the people, a 
sympathetic connection between father, mother, even the 
neighbours, and the unborn child, so that to secure the 
child's well-being they must all be free from sickness. 

The insungu in which their medicines have been kept 
is also in sympathetic connection with the child. After 
the child is born the mother or father returns the insungu 
to those who gave it to them, and makes them a present 
of a hoe or some beads. The insungu is then carefully 
preserved inviolate : it may not be used for any such base 
purpose as drawing water, ilatonda (" it is taboo "). Yafwa 
ati ulafwa mwana, yafwa mukaintu ulaba namatezi, kambo 
"kako ilazobolwa insungu ukwabo (" If it dies (i.e. is 
broken) it means that the child will die ; if it is broken 
the woman will become a Namantezi, i.e. a woman whose 
children all die, and for that reason it is preserved at her 
home "). 

Abortion is regarded with horror ; the woman is in a 
state of uncleanness and is a distinct danger to the 
community. She is therefore isolated and treated in the 
manner shown in the following account : 

" If a woman becomes pregnant but plays the harlot by 
having converse with other men, then she aborts. When 
she has aborted they build her a shelter out west, and there 
she has to remain all the time of her uncleanness. After 
a time, they prepare medicine for her, putting it into a 
basin, that she may wash with it every day. Her food 
she has to cook in potsherds. When it is over, her mother 
seeks medicine for the return to the village, and all the people 
wash in that medicine. When she enters the village she 
gives the medicine to all that are in the village and they 
drink it, which means that the abortion (kasowe) shall not 
stick to them. And the woman when she enters her house, 
she and her husband may not come together before she 
has been with other men. On her return from the other 
men, then they come together as man and wife. This is 
the affair of a woman who has aborted." 


2. Birth 

The people do not seem to have accurate ideas as to 
the time of gestation. One of our most intelligent infor- 
mants, himself a married man, put it at twelve months ; 
some women we have known to make it ten months. This 
is perhaps hardly to be wondered at when we remember 
the uncertain way in which they reckon time. 

It is taboo for a woman to give birth in a hut ; were 
she to do so and the child be born dead, she would suffer 
heavy penalties : her husband might, unless they were 
redeemed by her clansmen, enslave her and her children. 
All grain and medicines in the hut would have been 
contaminated, and hence would be destroyed. 

When the woman feels that her time is drawing near 
she goes to her home. The birth takes place either in a 
shelter some distance from the house, or on the verandah 
of the house, a space being enclosed with mats for the 
purpose. Other women come to help. There are those 
who have the reputation of being skilled in midwifery, and 
a woman who is known to have medicine for use in some 
irregularity may be specially called in should occasion 
arise. Owing to their hardy manner of living, their free- 
dom from constricting garments, and the smallness of the 
children's heads, the birth is usually unattended with serious 
complications, and the woman quickly resumes her usual 
life in the community. To those accustomed to the usages 
of civilisation it comes as a shock to see a woman rise up 
and carry her child, half-an-hour old, back to the house 
from a shelter in the forest. But deaths do occur. Such 
a complication as a transverse presentation often proves 
fatal. They claim to have medicine to administer to the 
patient ; and there are midwives who will, after bathing 
their hands in certain medicines, endeavour to turn the 
child, but often without success. There is a complication 
called Kavhwi kakosoka (" the breaking of the Kavhwi "), 
which is said to be fatal, but we are not sufficiently 
acquainted with anatomy to say what the Kavhwi is. 

As men are not allowed to be present on such occasions, 
we cannot describe at first-hand the procedure at a birth ; 


but we have the advantage of notes prepared for us by 
two ladies who have attended and watched cases. 

When a woman is about to become a mother and the 
first pains of confinement are felt, she is given an infusion 
made from the roots of the castor-oil plant. This she drinks 
from time to time until the child is born. During the first 
pains she may lie down if she gets tired, but she is not allowed 
to lie for long and has to get into a sitting position now and 
again. When the last pains arrive she sits all the time and 
is not allowed to lie down on any account, as doing so might 
kill the child. Generally two women attend her. During the 
first pains one woman supports her back while the other 
holds her knees, which are drawn up close to the body. 
When the strong pains come on, the woman who is sup- 
porting the knees puts her feet close together and presses 
the patient's buttocks, and the woman who was support- 
ing the back comes in front and puts a strong long piece of 
cloth round the loins of the patient and holds the two ends. 
Quotienscunque dolor acrior incessit, tnulier ea quae ex adverso 
consedit, pedibus suis parturientis poplites prernit, simul 
maximo pedis pollice anum eius occludens ; velut interdum 
fit, anulum ad id factum impositumque adprimens. Haec 
ideo faciunt ne quid excrementi parturiens remittat ; quod 
si accidit, parturientem destitui mos non vetat. The woman 
with the two ends of the cloth in her hands pulls with all 
her strength. This goes on until the child is born. If the 
woman gets impatient or expresses a wish to stand or lie 
down, or groans or complains, she is spoken to very roughly, 
told she will be thrashed, accused of wanting to kill her 
child, and generally treated like a naughty, disobedient 
youngster. When the child is born, the cord (ludila) is 
tied once and then cut. As they are doing this the women 
sing a little song ; the first words coming from the woman 
or women sitting by, and the last, as a refrain, from the 
woman actually cutting. 

Uteend'anji! Nyama ! (" Do not travel elsewhere ! Meat!") 

If the afterbirth does not come away at once, the patient 
is given a medicine to drink, made from the roots of the 
mukonono tree. The root is roasted on the embers, then 


put in water. If this is not efficacious, two leaves of the 
same tree are taken and inserted in the woman. The hands 
are then put in, the placenta grasped and pulled out. 

We have the following account from Mrs. Price. It 
describes what happened at the birth of Lissie's child 
at Nanzela, July 1913 : 

" When I arrived the child was already born and was 
lying on its left side on the mud floor of the hut, but the 
afterbirth had not yet come away. The mother was sitting 
on a bit of rag on the floor with her head against Matsediso. 
Marta several times put three fingers into the mother's 
throat to make her heave, the idea seeming to be that 
this would help the afterbirth to come away. Afterwards 
Lissie knelt (the afterbirth being then halfway out) leaning 
on her hands, and the afterbirth came away. She was then 
given hot water, in which bark of some tree had been boiled, 
to drink. This was for the ifu ('womb'). Then Matsediso 
gave her a kind of warm watery gruel to drink. The child 
was lying on the ground all this time with the cord still 
attached. The woman sat a while talking, the mother 
sitting up all the time, naked with the exception of a bit 
of twisted calico around her abdomen. This she had asked 
for as her ifu hurt her. The women sat a while and seemed 
to be looking for something with which to cut the cord. 
Marta went out and found an old penknife and also a piece 
of old dirty rag about six inches long. This they twisted 
to tie the cord with. Each seemed afraid to perform the 
operation : first Marta and then Galassi essaying to do it. 
Galassi then took out of the wall where the earth had 
broken away a thick reed, and broke off a piece about three 
inches long and laid it under the cord ; then she took the 
knife, drew it across once, and as she did so all together 
sang in monotone. They cut across four times before it 
was through, singing all the time. Another woman took 
the child on her knee. Marta took a calabash, smashed the 
top and made the broad part into a bath. Into this they 
put hot water, and the woman who held the child dipped a 
hand into it and washed the blood from the child. Then 
Lissie washed her breasts in the same water. Then the 
woman holding the child, still sitting, jerked it towards the 


east, and then towards the west, head foremost each time, 
and as she did so all the women in the hut lululooed and 
clapped very loudly. Then all shouted ' Ezeulu ' (' Up '), 
and as she shot the child up all shouted praises to the wife 
of Petrose who had borne a child. Then all thanked 
her : 'Ndalumba chinichini usunu mb'uwazhala mwana (' I 
give much thanks to-day that you have given birth to a 
child '). Marta got a stick and scraped the earth from a 
rat-hole in the hut to about 9 inches deep. Lissie edged 
off the rag on which she had been sitting on to bare earth 
and Marta scraped it into the hole with a stick. Then 
Lissie took hold of the afterbirth with the right hand 
(the hole was towards the left) and dropped it into the 
hole. Immediately the woman holding the child cried 
out, ' Ndapenga, ndapenga, weh ! ' ('I am troubled, I am 
troubled, oh dear ! '). Whispering among the women, 
then Lissie carefully laid hold of the afterbirth and 
straightened it out, half turning it over. Then Marta 
covered it with earth. Then a skin of an animal was spread 
out, one end over the place where the afterbirth was buried ; 
Marta's clothes were made into a bundle for a pillow, the 
child was put down beside the mother and both blankets 
thrown over them. The child was not put to the breast." 

The afterbirth is buried in the hut. There would seem, 
from several phrases in the above account, to be some 
mysteries attached to the afterbirth ; but we have not been 
able to investigate them. The caul also, if there is one, is 
buried in the hut. 

After the confinement, the woman goes back into her 
house and stays there for some time, six days at least. 

All the time of her pregnancy there have been dangers 
surrounding her ; hence the precautions we have described. 
And now the child is born, care is taken to fend off from it 
perils of a mystical kind. After the birth and for several 
days the child is given a concoction made of the leaves of 
the castor-oil plant as a preventive against the malign 
influence of pregnant women. And a string, made of palm- 
leaf, is suspended on poles in front of the hut to give 
warning, especially to those same women. This is 
kukobaika ingozhi ("to fend off by means of string"). A 


pregnant woman must on no account come to the hut 
lest the child ulafwa luvhumwe na imamba (" should die 
of luvhumwe or wars "). Luvhumwe is the condition of 
something split or parted asunder. If a pregnant woman 
passes through a calabash garden, the calabashes will all 
drop off their stalks or split ; if she passes a tree laden 
with fruit, the fruit will fall to the ground ; if she passes 
near a litter of pups their heads will split and they will 
die ; if she passes a hen sitting on a nest of eggs, they will 
all crack. This is kufwa luvhumwe : in the same way, 
were she to enter a hut where there is a baby its skull would 
part asunder. 

The mother is not absolutely secluded from the world ■ 
during the days of retirement. After the birth, her husband 
may go and see her and offer his congratulations, taking 
presents of beads or hoes to his parents-in-law. And her 
male relations may enter the hut, clap their hands to 
her, and give her bracelets or leglets by way of con- 

A person who has had sexual intercourse the night 
previous may not enter ; he or she is called a Shimalo. 

When the woman emerges from her seclusion, the father 
ties a string of beads on the child's wrists and legs, and 
takes and nurses it in his arms. By so doing he acknowledges 
the child to be his. And the relations come to congratulate 
the parents ; but every one who approaches the child is 
more or less under suspicion. Unless they give the child a 
small present they are not allowed to take it in their arms, 
lest they should tensha it, i.e. hinder its growth. 

On coming out from her hut, the woman takes an 
insungu and places it by the door. Those who pass in or 
out must jump over it, batole shilwazhi shivhwe ku mwana 
(" that they may take away the diseases, so that they may 
leave the child"). When the day gets warm they carry 
the insungu outside ; and the mother pouring some of the 
contents into her hand, first makes the child drink some of 
it and then sprinkles some a lubwebwe, a mozo (" on the 
fontanelle, on the heart"). Then she washes it all over. 
This done, the insungu is taken back into the hut. This 
is done every day until the child becomes a mupumpula, 



PT. Ill 

i.e. about three years old. The medicine is named Isamba- 
bacheche (" the babies' washer "). 

A woman who has recently given birth is called a 
Mutumbu (kutumbuka, "to give birth"). Artificial 
feeding is of course a thing unknown to the Ba-ila. The 
nursing period lasts two or three years. Very early the 
mother's milk is supplemented by porridge. The child is 
running about long before it is weaned. The weaning must 
take place at a new moon. If there is any difficulty in the 
matter, the mother rubs a little nicotine from her pipe on 
the nipples. 

The Mutumbu has to avoid many things ; they are 
tonda to her, lest harm should come to the child she is 
nursing. Among these things we find the following : 

It is tonda for her to come out of her house very early 
in the morning. The reason given is that she may step 
on the footprints of the nocturnal animal shibandilwabana, 

A. ' 

which, as we saw in Chapter X.,is very maleficent to children. 
By her waiting indoors until there are many people mov- 
ing about, it is hoped that the baneful influence attending 
the footprints may be obliterated. 

She is forbidden to eat inshima ya kubwenga, lest she 
should have the milk in her breasts dry up. 

It is tonda for her to drink cold water ; should she 
drink, either she or the child will die — perhaps both. 

It is tonda for her to sit on the beds of married people. 
Should she do so, the child will manuka mu chamba, ulafwa, 
(" will get sick in the chest and die "), 

It is tonda for her to strip ; for should she do so and 
any one should happen to see her, the child would waste 

Above all, the woman is tonda to all men, her husband 
included. The reason for this is that she might conceive, 
and the drain upon her system would be bad alike for the 
child living and the child unborn. Should she break this 
taboo and conceive, she would be despised by other women. 
Such cases do happen and then the women often secure 
abortion by taking medicines. 

Not until the milk is dried up in her breasts may her 
husband resume cohabitation with her. 


Others say that the taboo extends to the time when 
the child's teeth are grown. If she has intercourse before 
then, they say, " Mwana wamusotoka. Atafwamba kuleta 
musamo wafwa " (" She has jumped over the child ; it will 
waste away, and unless they quickly doctor it, it will die ") 

3. Child Life 

Ba-ila children are most delightful little creatures : so 
weirdly solemn at times and then changing so rapidly into 
romping, laughing little rascals. Even to those whom the 

Photo li. II'. Smith. 

Four Ba-ila Children. 

adults fail to attract, but rather inspire with feelings of 
disgust or contempt, the sight of the little children rolling 
about in their play brings a warming of the heart. 

The saddest thing about the child life is the considerable 
mortality. It is only the hardiest that can survive the way 
they are treated. If love were synonymous with intelligent 
care of the children then indeed there would not be so many 
die, but the mothers are woefully ignorant of sanitary rules. 
On a hot day a woman goes to her field with her baby slung 
on her back in a skin ; she works while the baby dozes 
with only its head visible above the skin. When it wakes 
up and cries the mother finds a shady place, takes the 



PT. Ill 

baby out dripping with perspiration, and proceeds to nurse 
it. A cool wind is blowing and the child lies naked with 
no protection. Then they wonder that the child catches 
cold and is carried off by pneumonia. Again, the women 
have no idea of cleaning out a baby's mouth : you rarely 
find one with a clean mouth. It drinks at all times : when- 

Photo E. II'. Smith. 

Enjoying her Breakfast. 

ever it cries it is put to the breast. Indigestion inevitably 
results. Another deleterious practice is to cover the head 
of the child with a fatty mess, and undoubtedly the pressure 
on the brain is often disastrous. Nor is the beer given to 
the young babies a good thing for them. 

These are only examples of the disregard of hygienic 
principles. We find it impossible to calculate the proportion 
of dead to living children. It is reckoned tonda to question 



a woman as to the number of her children, and we have 
therefore failed to estimate the extent of infant mortality ; 
but we know it to be very great. As we have seen in another 
chapter, some children are destroyed at or shortly after 
birth, but the numbers so disposed of, even in the older 
times, were small compared to those who died of sickness. 
Mrs. Smith, who has had the longest experience of any 
lady among the Ba-ila, thinks that fully seventy per cent 
of the children die. 

In the tsetse-fly districts the number is even larger, 
owing to the absence of milk. We have even heard the 
figure ninety per cent given. It is not at all uncommon 
to find young women who have borne four or five children, 
not one of whom is living. Nothing, we may say here, has 
so commended the Christian religion to the Ba-ila as the 
fine healthy families reared by the converts. 

We shall describe in a later chapter the games of the 
children. Their life is not all play. The young girls are 
early made to help their mothers in looking after the baby 
and other domestic duties. They are taught to carry 
burdens upon their head, such as pots of water and bundles 
of firewood, and this practice undoubtedly is one cause of 
the splendid figure and upright carriage a girl develops. 
The boys too have their duties : while still young they are 
set to herd goats or sheep and later the calves. It is a proud 
day for the lad when he goes out with young men to herd 
the cattle. The boys, too, do much of the milking. 

There is a system something like that of fagging in 
English public schools. Under this the boys have to do a 
great many services for their elder brothers and their friends. 
Indeed we sometimes think that the Ba-ila never work so 
hard as when they are boys. Of the men we may say, as 
a Spanish Ambassador once said of the Irish : "La gente 
is muy olgazana, enemiga de trabagar " ("The people are 
lazy and do not like work"). They seem to think that 
they did enough while they were boys, and are now glad 
to make their juniors do as they themselves had to do. 
At the same time, Ba-ila childhood is not burdensome but 
happy. While they are made to work there are not so 
many restrictions upon them as obtained in our own 



PT. Ill 

boyhood. There are no worries about clothes and keeping 
clean ; and there is no school to creep unwillingly to in 

Photo E. II'. Smith. 

Girls carrying Water. 

the morning. 1 Indeed it would be better for the people if 
children were treated with rather less lenity. Children are 
largely exempt from punishment. A mother rarely beats 

1 At least this is true where there are no mission schools in the 
neighbourhood : as yet, there are all too few of them. 


her child. If a girl refuses to stamp grain the mother 
eats alone without offering any to her. Similarly, if she 
refuses to fetch water she must go thirsty. If in drawing 
water she breaks a calabash, the mother quietly sends her 
a longer distance with a new and perhaps larger one. But 
parental discipline extends no further. 

' Lemeka kana ako kakulemeke," says the proverb 
("Honour a child and it will honour you"), and it is 
interpreted to mean that you must not be severe with them, 
however naughty. Children are precious in their eyes, and 
they are constantly haunted by the idea that the child 
may make up its mind to return to the spirit world whence 
it came, if it is not treated properly. 

Ba-ila children, like children perhaps all the world over, 
are intimidated by means of awesome bogeys. " Utakudila, 
ulakuluma Pompo," one may hear a mother say to a child 
(" Do not cry, or Pompo will bite you ! "). Shezhimwe — 
Pumpa — Shilombamudilo — Momba— there is quite an array 
of these fearsome creatures. 

We may mention here some of the taboos imposed upon 
children. There are some things that are regarded as 
dangerous for them to eat. Boys and girls may not eat 
fat, for it is said adia mafuta alabavhwa ku bulombwana 
ku bukaintu (" the fat will pour out at the genital organs "). 
Eggs are forbidden on the plea that they will stop up the 
passages of the genitalia. For the same reason mukamu, 
bread made of sorghum grains, is tonda, and also katongola, 
a kind of ground-nut. They may not eat the unground 
grains of corn, lest they should sprout and block the passages. 
Bufufu — meal made by splitting the grain in a certain 
way — is also taboo ; should they eat it they would split 
at the genitals, just as the grain is split to make bufufu. 
The fish called Inkungwe, Mazanzhi, and Shimulele are also 
tonda because of their softness : should a girl eat them 
her children when she grows up would be soft like them, 
and a boy would be afflicted with softness in the pudenda. 
Girls may not eat the root called Miseza, for it is said 
n'adipena wakadya miseza mushimbi ulakupuluka mashino 
' Ubi vagina distendi coepta erit {id quod infra descriptum est) 
pudendi labiae destringentur" (see p. 20). It is also said 

VOL. II . C 



that they would puka mu shibelo (" have the skin of their 
thighs peel off"). Young girls are forbidden to touch 
the miandu drums used in connection with the initiation 
ceremonies. Children must never say, "Ndasata chibunu" 
(" I have a pain in my loins ") ; if they do, their elders 
may die. 

4. Initiation 

The boys and girls thus develop until the time when 
they think, and their elders think, they should become 
men and women. The passage from childhood to adolescence 
lies through the initiation ceremonies, three of which fall 
to be described here : Kudivhunga, Kuzaluka, and Kushinga. 
The first is practised by the Nanzela people ; the second 
by the Ba-ila proper ; the third by both. In the nature 
of things, we have been unable to witness much that we 
now describe, but have done our best to get information 
from reliable sources. A girl before initiation is mushimbi 
(plural, bashimbi) ; afterwards she is called kamwale 
(plural, bakamwale). 

(a) Kudivhunga 

Some time during the wet season the young girls 
{bashimbi) in a village get together and make up their minds 
that it is time for them to be initiated into womanhood. 
So they go out and look for a munto bush, around which 
they scuffle a clear space. That night they sleep at home 
but at dawn arise, unfasten their scanty clothing, and throw 
it on the roof of their parents' hut. They go off naked to 
the munto bush and lie around it, curling themselves up 
(badivhunga) , whence the name of the proceedings. In the 
morning their mothers discover the clothes on the roofs 
and know that their girls have entered upon their initiation. 
They go off to find them and on coming upon them start 
lululooing. It is a glad day to them. They dress the girls 
in new clothes, and dance from the morning till the afternoon. 
As the sun is declining they pick up the girls, put them on 
their shoulders, and carry them back to the village. There 
they are all put into one hut, where they have to stay. 




They also choose out a young boy, called shakamwale 
(" master of the 
maidens "), who is 
put into the same 
hut and has to be 
treated with respect 
by the girls. Food 
is taken to them, but 
before eating they 
must close their eyes 
while the shakamwale 
eats first. In the day- 
time a shady place is 
sought for them in 
the fields among the 
grain, and there they 
sit with their shaka- 
mwale. He keeps on 
the look-out ; if he 
sees any one ap- 
proaching he gives 
warning and the girls 
must cover their 
heads. To be un- 
covered in the pres- 
ence of an outsider 
would result in their 
wasting away. Any 
one thus discovering 
the girls will plague 
them : a man will 
give them a beating 
with a stick ; a 
woman will pinch 
them on the thighs ; 
but they must en- 
dure the pain without 

either speaking or crying. It is tonda to utter a sound ; if 
they did people would exclaim, " What sort of a kamwale 
will this be who speaks to people ! ' During the day they 

Photo E. IK Smith. 

A Young Nurse. 


are occupied in weaving mats and baskets When darkness 
falls they steal back to their hut, all covering their heads. 
In the hut they may not sleep on a bed, but on the ground, 
or under the bed. 

After a time the parents and relations of the girls bring 
fowls and meat and other things as a preparation for a 
dance : this is called kuhololwa. They invite the dancers 
of the Kashimbo dance and the players of the mwandu 
drums to assist them, and the dance is kept up through 
the night. These assistants are rewarded (balatailwa) with 
beads, tobacco, and spears. Another month passes away 
and they dance again. 

All the time the girls are in the initiation hut they are 
being instructed ; that is to say, they teach each other 
what they know, and an old woman is called in as their 
mubudi ("instructress"). There where they sit in the 
veld they put themselves through several operations which 
they think will prepare them for marriage. Baladichita 
misamo ku bukaintu, baladipena o kudieleka chinkodi 
chepopwe, na mufuma owa chikampe cha musekese, ati 
babone sena mulombwana akabatwale ulayana musena : 
" Genitalibus medicinas applicant, rimam pudendi disten- 
dentes, metientesque vel spica f arris quod vocatur Indiani, 
vel arboris fetu quant musekese vocant, id sciscitantes num, 
si nubant, viro adituni sat largum praebiturae sint." They 
do this for ten or twenty days, " when they find they have 
grown and become women," as our informant says. The 
old woman with them gives them many instructions as to 
their conduct when married. She holds one by the ear, 
to secure proper attention, and says : ' A man has to be 
reverenced and well looked after in the house ; your 
parents-in-law also." The girl is not supposed to speak, 
but to nod her head to signify her assent. 

A third month passes and now the girls' relations brew 
great quantities of beer and lay in a stock of other things 
for a feast. They levy contributions on all the girls' clans- 
men, so that they may worthily feast the dancers. When 
the brew is ready the feast is held. The girls are anointed 
with fat, dressed, and decorated. After the people have 
danced the girls come out. Before doing so they are given 


their final lessons and among other things are told always 
to reverence the munto bush, under which they curled them- 
selves up ; and also the shakamwale boy — respecting him 
and obeying him in all things. 

Coming out of the hut thus attired in their best, they 
are the centre of admiration ; the news goes through the 
country that the daughters of So-and-so have passed 
through the initiation, and are now women. 

When in seclusion in the house the girls are made to 
play the Indavu (kupwa indavu). They sit round with a 
number of pieces of broken pot and play as in the game of 
" Five stones." They also play the mantimbwa and sing 
songs, such as this : 

N amunkulungu tobele musamo, 

Muntembwe ndo, muntembwe ngu musamo. 

(" ~N amunkulungu is not the medicine, 

Muntembwe, my dear, muntembwe is the medicine "). 

(b) Kuzaluka 

The principal difference between the Balumbu custom 
described above and that of the Ba-ila proper is in the time 
of the ceremony. At Nanzela it takes place before the 
first menstruation, and girls believe that if they do not go 
through it they never will menstruate. On the other hand, 
the Ba-ila defer their ceremony until the first menstruation 
has taken place. A secondary difference, following on this, 
is that at Nanzela the girls enter in company ; while among 
the Ba-ila each girl goes through the rite of initiation alone. 

Among the Ba-ila, when a girl first menstruates, she 
must keep quiet about it. If she were to mention it the 
women would say : " Mwauiche chilatonda checho. Mukoa 
ako ulamana kufwa" ("Child, that is taboo; all your clan 
will die "). The women discover it by examining the 
girl's clothes ; then they say to her, ' ; You have men- 
struated " ; and they take hold of her and dance. It is 
a great occasion to them. The mother, it is said, weeps on 
hearing the news ; probably because it means that she will 
soon lose her daughter. But in another respect she is glad, 
because now her child has grown up. All the girl's clans- 
men share in the rejoicing, saying, " Mwanesu wakomena " 



PT. Ill 

(" Our child has grown up "). They take the Mwandu and 
dance. Before the dance is commenced the girl's father 
formally presents the men with a hoe and asks them to 
dance for his daughter. The girl is now secluded in a hut. 
To amuse herself she is told to play the indavu, as described 
below. A round hole is dug by the mother of the girl close 
to the bed ; this is called the Mulao. Broken pieces of 
pottery are placed around the edge of the hole ; the girl 
takes one of these pieces, throws it into the air, and while 

Photo t //-'. Smith. 

A Girl playing the Mantimbiva. 

it is in the air she knocks one of the other pieces into the 
mulao, catching the piece she has thrown up as it comes 
down. If she knocks in two pieces, the women who are 
standing by, teach her. This is her occupation during the 
seclusion; ngu mudimo wakwe ("it is her work"). She 
also plays the mantimbwa. She sits on the ground with a 
pot between her legs, with knees drawn up. The mantimbwa 
consists of two bows ; the end of one is placed on one 
shoulder, the end of the second on the other ; the other 
ends of the bows resting on a basket covering the pot. 
The bows are kept in position by a stick which passes over 
the middle of the bow under the string and held under the 




knees. She plays the instrument with her fingers The 
mantimbwa is brought to the initiate by her betrothed 
husband. At the same time, he brings a mwana wa 
chisamo (" a wooden 
doll"), which he 
has decorated with 
strings of beads. 
The mantimbwa , and, 
some say, the doll, 
must be made of 
munkulnngu wood, 
though why nobody 
can tell. The be- 
trothed husband is 
accompanied by a 
woman bearing the 
name that he will 
give the girl after 

marriage ; 
they are 
into the 
hut, but 

may not 

Photo E. IT. Smith. 

see the girl. These 
two after presenting 
the things they have 
brought must sit 
down and have a 
game of indavu to- 
gether, taking every 
care that the im- 
pwisho, the stones 
thrown up, do not 
fall on the ground ; 
for should that happen the man would have to pay a fine. 

This seclusion lasts two or three months. The girl may 
not be seen by any man during this period. She is carried 
out well covered up to answer the calls of nature and does 
not leave the hut for any other purpose. 

Sometimes when paying a visit to a village, you may 
see several figures, with covered heads, come creeping 

A Ba-ila Doll. 


stealthily out of the grass towards the huts, one of them 
bearing a burden on her back. It is the initiate and her 

We were once invited to enter a hut in which one of 
these girls was being initiated, but there was very little to 
see. The girl herself we were unable to catch a glimpse of, 
as she was under the bed in the inner chamber, which was 
in utter darkness. It is there she has to spend most of 
her time. As our eyes became accustomed to the gloom of 
the outer room we could distinguish the forms of several 
women. One, the girl's maternal aunt, was sitting near 
the door leading into the inner chamber. She had between 
her legs a large earthenware pot, covered with a piece of 
dressed skin ; in one hand she was grasping loosely a reed 
standing upright on the skin ; the other hand she dipped 
into water and drew up and down along the reed : the 
vibration caused a deep harsh sound. This is the mwandu, 
the instrument consecrate to the initiation ceremonies. 
Two girls were sitting on the ground near by, with a pot 
between them ; each had a long hollow reed, with one 
end resting on the rim of the pot ; down the other end 
they blew, making a noise. If you ask the meaning of these 
things, the reply is that they are to amuse the girl lying 
there in the darkness. 

When staying in a village you may see a party of women 
dressed up and going from mukobo to mukobo dancing. 
They enter the cattle-kraal, and, standing in a circle outside 
the inner fence in front of the principal hut, they dance. 
The wives of the headman join in, singing and dancing for 
a few minutes, and the party goes on its way. This is a 
little diversion in honour of the girl passing through the 

Some time early in the period the young man comes 
again with his friends, and they join with the villagers in 
dancing the Chululu. An ox is killed and consumed, together 
with much beer. This feast lasts one night. 

Towards the end of the period the impatient man 
begins to worry the girl's relations to get the initiation 
completed. " I want my wife to come from under the bed," 
he says. They t put him off as long as possible, and at last 


consent that on a certain day she shall emerge. Great 
preparations are now made for the Chisungu, as the final 
feast is named. Before the girl may leave the hut, however, 
she has to be given final instructions as to her future conduct 
as a wife. Here is an account we have received of the 
teaching given : " They seek out an old woman to teach 
the girl, and give her things, a hoe, or ten strings of beads. 
Then she begins to instruct her, saying, ' So-and-so, you 
are to be married. Remember that a man is to be obeyed, 
and his food cooked. And when people come to pay a 
visit, do not hide your face, but receive them warmly and 
hospitably. When you have people in the house, treat 
them kindly. And if your mothers-in-law send you on an 
errand be quick in starting ; they are to be honoured ; 
food is to be ground for them, water drawn for them, and 
they are always to be answered respectfully. And in your 
house, things are to be done nicely ; the pots are to be 
kept clean and in good condition, and the house is to be 
swept within. And your husband is to be obeyed implicitly 
and not answered angrily. When you are married, do not 
act childishly ; you are to provide food. Oh woman, 
cook well and do not spoil the food ; you are to be perfect 
in cooking. Vir etiam purgandus et lavandus x est, capillo 
pubis evulso.' And so on and so on, for a day or two before 
the close of the seclusion. The girl is also anointed with 
butter, dressed in a new lechwe skin, and ornamented with 
beads, etc., to enhance her beauty in her husband's eyes. 

On the day appointed, the young man and his friends 
arrive at the village, and all the other guests assemble. 
On entering the courtyard the young man, or his companions, 
plant a spear upright in the ground, and are given in return 
a present named Chikwatamasumo, which may take the 
form of an ox or something else of value. The Chisungu 
is kept up for two or three nights and days, and is the 
occasion for much unbridled licence. 

The cattle killed, or given, during these ceremonies have 
special names. The first one killed is provided by the father 
and is named chululu ; the second one, provided by the father 

1 Hac voce, kusansumuna, significatur raos quo iubetur mulier post 
coitum a viri corpore omnes seminis guttas quantulascunque abstergere. 


when the beer is brewed, is ing' ombeyakusotoka (" the jumping- 
over ox ") ; at the same time he kills one called ankalisho. 
The ox, provided by the father, exchanged for tobacco 
and given to the friends of the husband, is called ing'ombe 
ya banamusela. The ing'ombe ya mukako is given to the 
girl's mother : the ing'ombeya muchizhi is given to whoever 
cooked for the girl in her retirement. These last two are 
provided by the husband's people. Another calf is given 
by the father to the husband and called wakusangana 
tuntu tutonda (" for to abolish the taboo things "). 

Some time during the proceedings the girl's clansmen 
bring an ox and stuff things down its throat, or close up 
its mouth and nostrils with clay, in order to kill it without 
a sound. Should it succeed in making a sound it means 
bad luck or death to the father. When the ox is dead the 
clansmen leave and the girl comes out and jumps twice over 
the ox ; or if she is unable to jump the father takes her on 
his shoulder and jumps over with her. This is evidently 
a symbolic act. It signifies that the girl has now passed 
over from childhood to womanhood. 

After the Chisungu, among the Ba-ila, the marriage 
follows immediately. It involves the taking of the girl 
<j away from her home to her future husband's (for marriage 
is patrilocal), often to a village some distance away. She 
must be carried, however far it may be ; the bridegroom 
i may not help in the carrying, nor may he see her on the 
road : that is taboo. We have often seen these processions : 
perhaps on a very hot day have seen one of a company of 
men struggling along, with the perspiration rolling down 
him, under the burden of a well-favoured damsel. This 
carrying may be regarded as the first marriage rite and 
what follows we must leave for the next chapter. 

Menstruation Taboos 

Here we may describe some of the taboos imposed upon 
the woman during the time of the menses. To menstruate 
is kusea and the woman is called Namusea. She is spoken 
of euphemistically as being kumbadi (" in retreat "), and 
uina matashi (" having no hands "). 


She is a dangerous woman, and must be separated as 
far as possible from contact with her fellows. 

She may not enter a hut in which people are sitting 
who have '^eaten medicine " ; if she must enter, they have 
first to come out. It is taboo for her to eat in company. 
Were she to eat in company with a man he would lose his 
virility. If he went from that place into the veld and started 
to run, he would have something burst within his chest 
and would die. Should she venture to sleep on her husband's 
bed, she would incur his righteous indignation and be made 
to pay damages : it would be reckoned buditazhi by some. 
She may not sit near people, lest there should be mutual 
injury. Si enim hominis cuiusvis umbra mulieri incidat, 
credunt effluvium sempiternam fore ita ut hac tabe cito 
peritura sit. She must have nothing to do with the common 
fire, but must light one for her own use. She must not handle 
other people's pots, nor eat out of their basins, nor drink 
out of their cups, nor smoke their pipes. She may not cook 
food for anybody, nor draw water for another. If she 
sleeps in her hut, it must be on the floor. She may not 
enter a village other than her own. She may not wear 
nice clothes. For five days is she tonda ; then she washes 
and may rejoin her fellows. 

It is evident from this that there is something about 
the woman that is dangerous ; moreover, her condition 
lays her open to receive malign effluence from others. 

That she is dangerous is shown also in the procedure 
with regard to a person called an Imbala. H-e is a man 
that is wasting away. Nothing seems to stop the emaciation. 
Then they say there is a musangushi (" ghost ") taking away 
his flesh. They put him into a hut and young girls enter 
and kindle a new fire for him. No menstruating woman 
must enter, for she is particularly dangerous to him. 

But the mysterious radiation from her, that ordinarily 
is so baneful, may be made use of. It is believed that if 
tsetse fly invade a district they can be driven away by the 
menstruating women going and sitting where they are and 
allowing themselves to be bitten. One of our friends was 
told by natives that a certain fly-infested road was now free 
because so many women had passed along it. 



PT. Ill 

(c) The Boys' Initiation : Kushinga 

The boys go to their elders and say : " Take us to the 
cattle outpost and let us shinga, i.e. be initiated." So next 
day they take them there and they sleep. In the morning 
they milk the cows. Then all the herdsmen take sticks, 
lumps of dry dung, and stones, and line up outside the cattle- 
kraal, the cattle having already come out. The boys have 
then to dart out one by one and run the gauntlet of the 



Photo JS. If. Smith. 

A Group of Ba-ila Boys in front of an Ant-hill. 

men, who beat them with the sticks and pelt them with the 
lumps and stones. The goal which the boys must reach 
is the bull of the herd, and until they succeed in striking 
the bull they continue to be beaten. Once a boy has touched 
the bull he is free. The boys then take the cattle to pasture. 
They return in the evening. They may not dress nor sleep 
on a bed. 

When the unsatisfying evening meal, consisting of some 
very sour milk, is over, the men devote an hour or two to 
disciplining the boys : the Ila word is kukoma. Whatever 
they are told to do, they must respond with alacrity or 
they are thrashed unmercifully. " Fight ! " say the men, 


and the boys must take sticks and belabour each other, 
or grapple and wrestle. Any one not entering heartily 
into it is abused as a coward by the men and beaten. 
" Zhana ! " say the men, and the boys leave the fighting 
and dance. Names of various dances are shouted and 
they must instantly change their steps accordingly, or the 
stick descends upon them. " Dance as your mothers 
dance. . . . Dance as your fathers dance. . . . Dance the 
mwandu as your mothers dance ..." and so on. Then 
other orders. " Grind corn as your mothers grind," and 
the boys have to flop down on their knees, and go through 
the action of grinding corn between two stones. They 
have to be quick about it too. Other things follow. De 
rebus genitalibus certiores facti, coguntur pueri inter se coitus 
imitari, iubenturque etiam masturbari. The men exhaust 
their rich vocabularies of abuse upon the boys — all the 
matushi they can think of. They may not show the slightest 
resentment at any of this treatment, or it will be the worse 
for them. 

Next morning, early at dawn, they are sent to the water 
to bathe. It is bitterly cold and they creep shivering back 
to the kraal ; but if they attempt to warm themselves at 
a fire they are driven away, and have to crouch naked and 
get warm as best they can. No bread is given them to eat, 
but only very sour milk, mabishi alula. For two days 
this is done. On the third day they take out the cattle 
to herd ; when the sun reaches that point which is called 
Akabonzhabeembezhi ("when the herdboys are tired."), i.e. 
about 3 p.m., they bring back the cattle near to the kraal, 
and then run off home, naked as they are. Reaching the 
village they sit outside and call aloud for something to 
wear, and when this is brought them they enter. 

Like the girls, the boys have their private operations to 
perform to fit them for marriage, the chief business of life. 
We give here a literal translation of an account of these 
dictated to us by an intelligent native : 

" They also [i.e. the boys) sit in like manner and look 
for medicines at the village ; medicines for difuka and for 
drinking, and for the first semen, and for to make them 
strong, and for enlarging, and for blowing into themselves. 


To fuka himself, he takes a certain bush 1 and on making 
incisions into it a juicy substance flows out ; this he 
rubs on the scrotum morning and evening. He goes to 
the meeting of the roads and leaves the medicine, burying 
it in the ground and covering it with a piece of pot ; then 
people jump over it, saying, ' Cito puer Me testes suos sciat.' 
The medicine for strengthening is drunk ; he does not 
know the plant it comes from, but is simply given it by 
the elders. The medicine of the first semen (shitompo) is 
to be drunk, it is the root of the mubanga tree. He cooks 
it three times ; at the fourth he puts in white meal of the 
first grinding and cooks it with an axe ; when he has done 
cooking he eats some of the porridge, and the rest he puts 
into his small calabash ; at dawn he drinks ; only he 
climbs up on his bed and drinks standing, before the flies 
have come to sit upon his body. The medicine for enlarging 
is the same Mufufuma, the roots. He digs a small hole at 
the threshold and buries there the medicine root. Bene 
mane radicem Mam iterum effosam cinerique saepius 
immersam turn peni suo ubique impingit, ea spe scilicet ut 
penis crescat extendaturque velut radix ipsa. Ex eadem 
radice venenum faciunt quod pertunsum et in pulveris speciem 
redactum per harundinem parvam in os mentulae inflat ; 
quo scilicet prava omnia a mentula exsolvantur. After a 
time when he has finished these medicines, he seeks that of 
the first pubic hairs (koza ka chisokwe), dry small sticks of 
the Mupazopazo tree ; he digs a little hole and plants over 
it a small platform ; then he makes fire by friction ; when 
the fire has burnt down he has to take the ash of the fire 
which he made and rub it on the os pubis to pluck out the 
first hairs there. He does this till it is quite clean. He 
does not leave even one little bit of a hair, because if he 
were to leave one it would break off, and he would become 
lame, swell at the knees, and be without strength. Having 
done this, he runs off to the river to bathe. And, again, 
there where he plucked out the hair, he will not pass again, 
lest the hair should return to him which he plucked out 

" Also they take away the fraenum. They tie tightly 

1 The Mufufuma, see Vol. I. p. 254. 


the hair of a wildebeest, and after a whole day and night it 
cuts through." 

The initiation proceedings, then, are to serve two 
purposes : first, to harden the boys and teach them to 
endure pain without complaint ; second, to prepare them 
for their manly functions. There is a third thing which 
cannot be passed over lightly, namely, the better kind of 
instruction the boys receive from their elders during the 
time. We cannot vouch for the universality of this instruc- 
tion among the people ; it may take different forms, be 
less or more in different districts ; but such as we have 
learnt from men of the teaching they received we transcribe 
here. It will be seen that moral teaching of a high character 
is mixed up with other things not so admirable. 

We have three accounts of the teaching, and will give 
them just as they were communicated to us. 1 

The first man said : "I was taught not to curse my 
elders, nor the initiator who is called mulumi (' husband ') ; 
to be humble before my mulumi and listen to all he told 
me, not transgressing one of his commands, for they were 
to me as the words of God ; to go where I am sent and 
go willingly ; always to take of the spoils of my hunting 
to my mulumi, even were it far away I must go ; always 
to be ready to assist him in his work ; not to be afraid of 
approaching his wife, 2 and if ever I found another man 
with her to thrash him, or if unable to do that at least to 
inform her husband of the fact ; but I was not to eat in 
her presence unless I had given her a bracelet." 

The second man said : " He told me : ' Now you are 
grown, honour your elders. If you find anything on the 
path, or meat, give it to any of your companions who are 
older than you ; it is not good for them to ask you for it. 
While you are still young you must not stand near your 
elders who are discussing affairs. If your friend is a thief 
and he asks you to go and look at things not your own 
you must refuse.' I was told wisdom as to sleeping at 
my mulumi's. {Ndakashimwinwa busongo bwa kutcba ku 

1 See W. Chapman, A Pathfinder in Central Africa, pp. 334 sq. 

2 The initiate sleeps with the wife of his mulumi about five nights, and 
may always cohabit with her if invited, even until and after he is married. 



PT. Ill 

midumi angu.) He said : ' Beware of other people's things, 
even if it be a child's ; people will curse me because I have 
not taught you wisdom if you do not respect all the things 
of other people. Honour all the people of the community, 
especially your chief. If you are travelling with an elder 
in the road help him with the things he is carrying, so that 
people may praise you for being good and kind. Let there 
be no conceit (kandokando) no rudeness {chisafii). If your 

Photo E. W. Smith. 

Boys carrying Firewood. 

elder sends you for firewood you must bring him some. 
If he sends you on a journey you must, not refuse but fetch 
him what he desires. If you are travelling with an elder 
you must fetch water for him, if he sends you you must 
answer, " I will go, I am still a child." When you return 
he will tell your father what a good boy you are. Honour 
all others as you honour your mulumi. If you do this you 
will live well, if you do not honour the elders you will not 
live well.'" 

The third man said : " This is what I was taught : 


' You must not speak evil things to your elders. If they 
strike you it is no fault in them. If they curse you, you 
must not curse them in return, but simply enquire : " For 
what reason do you curse me ? ' If you meet a woman 
you must not strike her, nor ask her to give you tobacco. 
If a woman meets you, you must not cause her to stand 
or the neighbours will ask you, " For what reason do you 
cause this woman to delay ? " If a woman wants to discuss 
affairs with you intimately (kudisha makani), you must not 
agree ; if she persists you may even beat her. If she comes 
into your house, you shall cry : " There is a woman here ! " 
And on the morrow they will enquire of her : " Why do 
you follow after this child of ours ? You must not get 
him into evil habits." Again, if a woman comes to you 
saying, " Give me tobacco, my man," you must say to her, 
' Tobacco ! Where shall I find it ? " The woman will 
say, " Here is a little piece of tobacco, I will give you a 
smoke." Then you shall reply, " I do not desire tobacco 
that has medicine in it." She will go on to say, " You can 
love me," but you must reply, " I refuse you, why do you 
cling to me ? " She will reply, " Why, man, do you not want 
' to eat ' anything ? It may be you are only a child. Are you 
not yet grown? " Then you must say, "I do not want 
you." She will go on, " Are you a fool or an idiot ? Why, 
man, let us divide the tobacco." You must say : " I have no 
pipe with which to smoke. There are among the people 
those who desire to smoke. I am sickened and weary of 
being importuned. I curse you." She will reply : " You 
ought to marry me. Simply marry me ! " You must refuse 
her by saying: " I have no desire to marry you." Then 
she will say, " Well ! this child ! How was he begotten ? 
He does not love these 'affairs.' This man soon brings out 
his anger ! Well ! Whenever did a man beget a child who 
gave birth to another who curses a poor woman ? ' Then 
after a time she will say, "Man, come now, discuss this 
matter, you are stubborn and very angry." Then finally 
you shall say to her : "I curse you because you weary me 
by following after me. This woman clings to me in an 
evil way. These things tire me. I will now disclose this 
thing to her husband, and say to him, ' This woman came 
VOL. 11 D 


to my house, but I refused her.' Then her lord will say, 
' Yon woman clings to men in an evil way. I have thrashed 
her, but she does not repent,' and turning to her, he will 
say, ' You walk in an evil way. Your eyes are constantly 
towards men. The person that gave birth to you gave 
birth to an evil person.' " They will help you. You are a 
man. This thing will go on and on and never end.' " 

These proceedings completed, the boys, like the girls, are 
dressed and decorated with beads, impande shells, and 
anklets. The boy is now at liberty to begin growing an 
impumbe. Wakubuka (" he has become a young man," a 
mukubushi) . 




There is much that is unpleasant in this part of our subject 
— much that we would fain pass over in silence. But if 
we are to be faithful to our purpose to give a true picture 
of the Ba-ila, we must not dwell upon what R. L. Stevenson 
called " the prim, obliterated, polite surface of life," 
but must lay bare "the broad, bawdy, and orgiastic — or 
maenadic— foundations." To write of the Ba-ila and omit 
all reference to sex would be like writing of the sky and 
leaving out the sun ; for sex is the most pervasive element 
of their life. It is the atmosphere into which the children 
are brought. Their early years are largely a preparation 
for the sexual function ; during the years of maturity it is 
their most ardent pursuit, and old age is spent in vain and 
disappointing endeavours to continue it. Sex overtowers 
all else. In the magistrate's court, cases arising out of sex 
are ninety per cent of the whole number. It is the rock 
against which break all efforts to improve the young and 
influence the old. We were speaking to a chief once about 
sending his sons to school, and his reply was, "I want them 
to go, but they are adolescent {badikwete mabolo, i.e. lam 
testicalos habent), and won't leave the women to go to school." 
They were lads of twelve to fourteen years of age. At the 
other end of life the commonest request made to us by the 
old men is for aphrodisiacs. 

We desire to look at even these things from their point 
of view. Our object is not to hold them up to reprobation, 
but simply to describe and understand. To them, the union 
of the sexes is on the same plane as eating and drinking, 



to be indulged in without stint on every possible occasion. 
There are limits even to eating and drinking ; you may 
not take a pot of beer out of my hut without permission, 
nor strip the maize from my field ; if you do. I shall take 
you to court. Of course a glutton may be subject to ridicule 
or even to scorn, but as long as the food he eats is his own, 
what right has any one to interfere ? In precisely the 
same way may men or women indulge their sexual instincts ; 
only they must respect the proprietary rights of others. 
The sexual quality of a woman is somebody's property ; 
while she is immature that quality is absent and she is 
not regarded except prospectively ; but once that quality 
develops, it enters into the possession of her husband, and 
his right cannot be infringed with impunity. He may 
give his right to a friend, just as he may give him a meal ; 
but if the friend presumes and takes either without per- 
mission he may be fined. It is a matter of property, not 
of moral reprobation. The anger of a man may be raised 
by some one interfering with his wife ; he would feel just 
as angry if the man drove cattle into his gardens ; and in 
either case is easily placated by payment of a fine. 

i. Before Marriage 

It will be sufficient to say that boys and girls are under 
no restraint. Whatever they may do is looked upon merely 
as "play" (kusobana). Adults rather encourage than 
otherwise these precocious acts, for they regard them as a 
preparation and training for what is man's and woman's 
chief business in life. We have seen how the initiation 
ceremonies are largely a preparation for this, and how 
boys and girls employ various devices to hasten the time 
when they shall be able to fulfil their ambitions. More 
and more as the period of adolescence approaches are their 
minds centred upon the one thing. Whatever they may do 
during these early years, no blame is assignable. 

The game named mantombwa is a kind of children's 
harvest festival. There are different forms of it : this is 
how it is played in Bwila. One day at harvest time the 
young girls (bashimbi) get together, and having come to an 


agreement on the matter go and tell the chief. He bids 
them wait while he procures a house for them from one of 
his people. Having taken possession of the house and 
swept it, they then pair off : as they say, batwalana, umwi 
umwi watwala mushimbi nina (" they marry each other, 
every one marrying her fellow "). They beg food from the 
villagers, and having cooked it, " man ' and " wife ' eat 
together in the house. They sleep together ; and at sunset 
they begin to sing : 

Bana-mantombwa tababoni izuba nku dibidila, 
Bamnkwelakwela bamutola ambo 
Suntwe akamudye. 

Which, being freely translated, means : " The mantombwa 
players are not to see the sunset ; if any one ventures out 
they take her to the west that the hyena may eat her." 
Then at dawn they sing again : 

Kumbo ukwa Mukonga twakeyana inzake ; 
Tu busongo, twaandwa, ye ! 
Chilumino muchele ; 
Chiyulamudiango, tuyudile, 
Tulakusadila wa lukombo. 

These songs are not easily translated on account of the 
strange words used ; this one may be rendered thus : "In 
the west, at Mukonga's place, we found a building ; We the 
wise ones are frozen with cold : Here's a dish and some salt 
in it. O ! opener of the door, open for us, And we will 
choose you something for your stomach." So they play 
and sing, until they weary of the game. Then they break 
up, by running off one morning to the water to bathe. 
If any boys see them bathing, they beat them saying : 
" Kamukatupa inkungo sha mapopwe a mantombwa" (" Give 
us a bundle of the maize of the mantombwa "). Then they 
return to their homes. 

Played thus the game is innocent enough. But in some 
localities it is different. The young girls go out of the 
village and build play-huts of grass, and take up their abode 
there, being assisted in their preparations by the boys. 
They beg plenty of food — the new grain, new ground-nuts, 
and milk. The night before the play begins they all collect 


at one of the huts in the village — perhaps the chief's — 
where they sleep. Next morning at cockcrow they rise 
and begin to sing : " Tuyudile, tuyudile, tuyudile " (" Open 
the door for us, open, open "). It is tonda for any female 
to open the door : a man must do it, or a boy. Then they 
take the food they have collected and scamper off to the 
play-huts. There they set about putting things in order 
and cook the food. During the morning the boys put in 
an appearance, and eat with the girls. Having eaten their 
fill, one of the boys says : ' Atuone ' (" Let us sleep "). 
Then the boys and girls pair off and go to bed in the huts. 
Later in the day they rise, and as the sun is setting they 
go back to their homes. This may be kept up for a few 
days or even for a month. During all this time the boy 
and girl are as man and wife. It is indeed a game counter- 
feiting the life of their elders. 

All these things are included under the general title of 
chikunku, meaning " childishness " and the things that are 
done by children in the state of immaturity. 

We have been assured by leading men in the tribe that 
it is tonda for an adult man to have connection with 
immature girls ; but in the same breath they admit that 
such things are done. We fancy they are done very largely. 
We have seen young girls, of seven or eight years of age, 
suffering from primary chancres, not on the genital organs, 
but on the inner sides of the thighs. This can only mean 
one thing. Penetration being impossible, the connection 
has been external ; what they call kuchompa. Should 
this be discovered, the man does not get into trouble ; the 
girl is simply rebuked by her elders and told not to allow 
it to happen again. 

Owing to these things, it is doubtful whether any girls 
who could be called chaste are discoverable over ten years 
of age. Such a thing as a grown virgin is not known. In 
seeking for the word to add to our vocabulary we asked 
many old men, but for long in vain. In seeking information 
from Mungalo we had this conversation : 

' My friend, what do you call a woman who repels 
men ? " 

" A namauwa." 


' ' What do you call a woman who has borne one child ? ' 

" A nakasomona." 

" What would you call a woman who has grown up 
without ever knowing a man ? " 

" You mean such and such a woman ? " 

" Yes." 

" Well, I should call her a mudimbushi " (" a fool "). 

Of course it happens sometimes that a girl becomes 
pregnant ; and what follows depends somewhat upon 
whether she has passed through the initiation ceremonies 
or not, that is, whether or no she is recognised as a woman. 

If the girl has not been through the ceremony, they say, 
" Waimita imfunshi " (" She has conceived a monstrosity "), 
and the man, if discovered, is fined one or two head of 
cattle, not because he has deflowered the girl, but because 
of that " monstrosity," which, however, is not allowed to 
live but is killed as soon as born. The girl too is punished, 
not for unchastity but because of that uncanny thing. 
We knew a case at Lubwe of a slave girl who was found 
pregnant before having menstruated ; she was taken and 
put into a rude shelter away in the forest in order that she 
might be killed by wild beasts. The native teacher from 
the Mission rescued her, much to the indignation of the 
people, who foretold all manner of calamities upon him. 
He persisted however ; the child was born and lived. When 
it was two years old the people, and her master in particular, 
clamoured for her return to the village, but she refused to 
go, and the teacher to give her up. Should she go back, she 
said, and were to be married, her next child would be killed 
in order that she might be purified from the contagion of 
the " monstrosity." 

If the girl has been initiated, the man will have to reckon 
with her affianced husband, who will claim damages from 
him. The " husband " may, however, claim to be released 
and to have his presents returned. In that case, they may 
try to persuade the seducer to marry the girl ; if he agrees 
and pays the chiko, all is well. If he refuses, they will 
insist upon his bringing things from time to time to the 
young mother in order kukuzha mwana (" to help rear the 
child"). But he has no right in the child ; whoever marries 


the girl is regarded as the father. By her loss of chastity 
she suffers no degradation in prospects ; her fiance may 
marry her, but even if he does not, somebody else will. 
Nor will he object to the child, but rather be pleased, 
because he has already got a start with a family. 

In a case like this, action is taken by relations of the 
girl other than the father. In our eyes, the father is the 
one to take proceedings, but to Ba-ila ideas it is strictly 
tonda for him to do anything ; if his wife had been assaulted 
he would be allowed, if not required, by public opinion to 
take steps ; but if he did it on behalf of his child, people 
would say, " He makes his child his wife " ; in fine, he would 
be vilified as an incestuous person. 

Of course, in cases of inconvenient pregnancy, resort is 
often had to abortifacients. 

Of an unmarried mother it is said, " Mwana wakazhala 
wakatanda ; ifu ledia ndia mwisokwe " (" The child has given 
birth before marriage, the stomach is of the veld "). 

We recall the words of Professor William James : ' No 
one need be told how dependent all human social elevation 
is upon the prevalence of chastity. Hardly any factor 
measures more than this the difference between civilisation 
and barbarism. Psychologically interpreted chastity means 
nothing more than the fact that present solicitations of 
sense are overpowered by suggestions of aesthetic and moral 
fitness which the circumstances awaken in the cerebrum ; 
and that upon the inhibitory or permissive influence of 
these alone, action directly depends." The unchastity of 
the Ba-ila is due to the fact that these inhibitory influences 
are weak or do not exist, and that the permissive influences 
are powerful. Where the passions are strong, solicitations 
frequent, opportunities abundant, moral restraints feeble, 
and tribal discipline weak, such a state of things as here 
exists, while it earns the reprobation of the strict moralist, 
cannot be wondered at. The unchastity has had, and still 
has, dire results upon the people. But their determinations 
are swayed by reference to immediate ends and without 
regard to consequences to themselves and the tribe. They 
see no wrong in it, and there is no public opinion to serve as 
an inhibitive conscience. 


2. Restrictions upon Intercourse 

Yet it must be said here, the Ba-ila fall short of actual 
promiscuity in their sexual relations ; and the above 
remarks are to be qualified by reference to certain inhibitive 
influences. There is, first, the intense horror with which 
incest is regarded. We have not heard a word that is 
equivalent to "incest" ; but there can be no doubt as to 
their abhorrence of it. In one respect their idea of incest 
is wider, in another it is narrower, than ours. Wider, 
because as we have seen, our prohibited degrees are enlarged 
to take in all the members of the clan, who are regarded 
as relations. All sexual intercourse, regular or irregular, is 
taboo between those who stand in the relation of bakwesu} 
banokwesn, bakwe besu, batatesu. These regulations are 
carried out with some amount of strictness. Those who are 
taboo are always taboo ; there are no saturnalian carnivals 
where the restrictions are removed ; even in licentious 
dances, such as the chisungu, they may not take each other 
as partners. Their bounds to legal intercourse are narrower 
than ours in that ortho-cousins 2 are prohibited from marry- 
ing and from illicit intercourse. It is done occasionally, it is 
true, but only by those of whom the Ba-ila say baina insoni, 
(" they have no shame "). We see here an eking out of the 
totemic taboo ; for these cousins, even if not clansmen, are 
under a taboo. Two brothers will marry from different clans, 
and their children will take their mothers' totems, and so 
may be of different clans from each other, but the rule holds 
good. A man must not cohabit with his brother's wives, nor 
with his wife's sisters, while brother or wife is alive ; but a 
man may inherit his brother's widow, and a second wife is 
usually taken from the deceased's sisters, if there are any. 

For relations to cohabit is kukozha babwa banyama 
(" to be like dogs and animals "). One who should cohabit 
with his sister, except in the case mentioned on p. 261, 
Vol. I. would be put to death as a warlock. 

The following tale was told us as relating the first 
instance of an incestuous relation : 

1 But see Vol. I. p. 319. 
2 Some cross-cousins are allowed to marry. See Vol. I. p. 318. 


" When the people had gone out of the village, a certain 
man called his daughter into the house. As soon as the 
child came, she said : ' What do you call me for, father ? ' 
The father said nothing, but just caught hold of her, and the 
child was ashamed. The man had no feeling of shame, he 
made his daughter to be like his wife. Then the child said : 
' What's the meaning of this ? ' The father answered 
nothing. As soon as the people returned, the child said, 
' Father, do to me as you did to-day.' Thereupon the 
father chaffed her, and the child said : ' Father, do to me 
as you did to-day.' She caught hold of her father, saying : 
' Let us do as we did to-day.' Thereupon the people were 
amazed and said : ' You have made your child to be as 
your wife.' To this day if a man acts thus he resembles 
that man who slept with his daughter as a wife." 

Another tale may be quoted here : 

" A certain man had two children, son and daughter. 
Their father and mother both died, so they went to another 
district. On the way they slept together. But a bird 
seeing them, began to sing, saying : 

Chobe, Chobe, wezo ngu- mwend'aze C. C. who is it you travel with ? 

nguni ? 

Chobe, Chobe, ngu mukwesn, C. C. it is my sister, oh bird. 


Chobe, Chobe, nadi mukwenu ni C. C. how is she your sister 

■mwalala. lying with you ? 

Chobe, Chobe, wambonena kwi, C. C. whence did you see me, 

kazune ? oh bird ? 

Mu chisamo chikonkomene. Out of the crooked stick. 

" ' My mother ! ' said the boy, ' how that bird lies. I 
will hit it with a stick.' Then when they arrived at the 
village, the bird also arrived and began to sing, saying : 

Chobe, Chobe, wezo ngu mwend'aze C. C. who is it you travel with ? 

nguni ? 

Chobe, Chobe, ngu mukwesu, C. C. it is my sister, oh bird. 


Nadi mukwenu ni mwalala. How is she your sister when you 

sleep together ? 

Wambonena kwi kazune ? Whence did you see me, oh bird ? 

Mu chisamo chikonkomene. Out of the crooked stick. 

" ' My ! that bird lies ! ' said the boy. ' My ! I will 


hit it with a stick ! ' Then the people said, ' Hear what 
the bird is saying. These people have been sleeping together, 
brother and sister.' So they put them into a house and 
burnt them." 

The facts with regard to incest among the Ba-ila do not 
bear out Westermarck's theory as to its origin. He main- 
tains that there is an innate aversion to sexual intercourse 
between persons living very closely together from early 
youth, and that as such persons are in most cases related 
this feeling displays itself chiefly as a horror of intercourse 
between near kin. We may easily credit the statement 
that boys and girls in civilisation, unrelated, living under 
the same roof from childhood, are more likely to grow up 
as comrades than to become lovers, but we cannot credit 
it among the Ba-ila. As a matter of fact people in a village 
are not " in most cases related." We can hardly imagine a 
state of life where the young people can see more of each 
other than in the intensely open life of a Ba-ila village ; 
yet there is no aversion to intercourse between them ; and 
marriage between such does take place, and is welcomed 
by the elders, provided, of course, that the family and clan 
taboos are respected. And to show that it is not mere 
contiguity that accounts for the horror of incest, we have 
only to remind ourselves of the fact that a man would 
readily marry a girl he knew and had lived next door to 
from childhood if she were not of his clan ; while he would 
not marry a woman from a hundred miles off who belonged 
to his clan. 

Besides the restrictions we have been dealing with, 
there are a number of particular occasions when sexual 
intercourse is prohibited to men and women. 

1. Menstruous women are to be strictly avoided. If a 
woman tells the man of her condition and he persists his is 
the crime ; if she conceals it, she ditaya's him. 

2. A woman whose full term of pregnancy is approaching 
is also to be respected. 

3. While a woman is nursing a child she must have no 
intercourse with any man. 

4. When she weans the child, she is still under this law, 
so long as any milk is in her breasts. 


5. If the child dies while a suckling, she must also wait 
till her breasts are dry. Should any man sleep with her 
while there is milk in her breasts, he would be liable to the 
sickness called mabishi, i.e. " sour milk." 

6. If either man or woman is sick, intercourse is avoided, 
lest the sickness should be worsened by " jumping over it ' 
(kusotoka bulwazhi). The Ba-ila are not so particular about 
this as their neighbours at Nanzela ; they will abstain only 
in cases of serious illness. 

7. If either is suffering from open sores (not necessarily 
syphilitic) on the body, they abstain. But we have known 
a young man marry a girl whose legs and arms were covered 
with festering sores. 

8. A woman while making beer must abstain, or the beer 
would refuse to ferment. 

9. A woman just before sowing her fields will abstain, 
lest the seed should not sprout. 

10. The people who thresh out the grain also have to 
abstain the night before they commence the work. 

11. Also those who store the grain away in the bins. 

12. A man starting on a journey must keep away from his 
wife and all women the night before, or he will meet with 
bad luck on the road, and the purpose of his journey will be 
frustrated. Thus, if he is going to trade, he will make only 
bad bargains. 

13. Also men going to fish, or to set traps, or to dig 
game-pits must not visit their wives or other women the 
night before. Some men will not do it before going to 
hunt, lest, as they say, they should be hurt on the way 
or be mauled by a wild beast. Others, on the contrary, 
regard intercourse as giving them good luck during the 
hunt. The bashilwando must abstain all the time they are 

14. Men engaged in smelting iron must abstain from all 
commerce with women. 

15. Above all, men going to war must absolutely have 
nothing to do with women from the time that preparations 
are begun and the doctors have started to doctor the army. 
Breach of this would mean certain death in the fight ; and 
likely enough bring disaster to the army. 


3. Sexual Attraction 

Before going further, we may well ask, what is it 
particularly that attracts Ba-ila men and women to each 
other ? 

In a woman there are many things that appeal to a 
man. He likes to see bright eyes, and long eyelashes ; 
small ears and lips that close evenly. He likes to see a head 
without a lot of depressions in it ; they are called makozhi, 
or mangungunya — the latter a rude term. The head that 
attracts him is shaven clean, with an even surface (mutwi 
uueme), and not straight up and down behind ! He does 
not pay much attention to the girl's breasts, for though he 
admires the contour, he knows that they will soon fall and 
be unsightly ; but he likes an abdomen rounded and not big. 
If the girl has a navel hernia (lukombo) an inch or so long, 
it is an additional attraction because out of the common. 
He likes red thighs (shibelo shisubila) and calves that are 
fat and firm and able to fill out many leglets. He likes to 
see an erect carriage and a graceful walk. But there are 
other things he wants in a wife : above all, she must be 
good at agricultural work and a good cook. She must not 
simply be able to cook but must serve the food in a charming 
manner ; and be attentive to his visitors. He likes to see 
her well dressed, with a skin-petticoat that fits her, and 
pretty mishini on her head. 

Many of these things are also attractive in a woman's 
eyes. She likes her lover to have bright eyes and long 
eyebrows. She admires a head-dress that is built and kept 
straight, and well ornamented with feathers and twala. 
Praeterea mulier membrum magnum miratur, plurimusque 
de co apertissimusque sermo , formamque sponsi saepe laudant 
vel vituperant coram sponsa. In the same way, men who 
have the means of knowing soon communicate private 
knowledge to their friends, and a woman's reputation for 
beauty is largely in their hands. Women like men to be 
men ; strong, brave, and skilled in hunting and fighting. 


4. Betrothal 

What are the steps taken by the young people themselves, 
or by others on their behalf, to bring about a marriage ? 
There is no one set rule. 

1. There are cases of genuine love matches, where two 
young people are mutually attracted, the marriage is 
not one arranged for them by others. The aspirant to 
their daughter's hand has, of course, to satisfy the parents 
and guardians in the matter of the chiko. There is no 
doubt that there are such love matches. 

2. More commonly the parents or guardians arrange 
the marriage. We will quote here an account of a betrothal 
of this kind taken down by us in the original : 

" They do this : when the son is grown, she who bore 
the boy begins to discuss with her husband, saying : ' The 
child has grown, he ought to be married to somebody.' 
Thereupon they arrange the matter, and next morning the 
boy's mother and sister go walking round the villages 
where they have seen marriageable girls. On arrival at a 
village, and after exchanging salutations, they say : ' We 
are looking for a pot.' The people of the village know by 
this that they are looking for a wife. They may answer, 
' There is no pot here ; all the pots are finished.' They 
answer, ' And if it be only a little pot ? ' They say, ' There 
is none.' So they leave that village and go to another. 
There also after being greeted they tell them the same thing, 
saying, ' We are looking for a pot.' If there are any who 
are agreeable, they answer, ' For whom are you seeking a 
pot ? ' The mother of the boy says, ' It is for my own 
child that I am seeking a pot.' They reply, ' There is 
a pot, but it is not fit for work.' They answer, saying, 
' We shall improve it.' They say, ' Come back again,' — 
which means that the relations of the child wish to talk 
the matter over quietly. Again they tell them, ' Sleep 
thrice, and on the fourth day you may come back.' They 
go back and spend three days ; on the fourth they return. 
On their arrival the relations say, ' Bring the muyumusho.' 
The wife-seekers return, and go to bring the muyumusho, 
five or four hoes ; when they produce them they say, 


' Return and come back here to-morrow.' So they go 

Here, under the well -understood fiction of seeking a 
pot, the girl is sought for, and the preliminary arrangements 
are made for the marriage. The muyumusho is not reckoned 
part of the chiko, but is a sort of retainer, or sign of 
betrothal. The two young people are now known as man 
and wife, and the marriage may take place a few days 
after, or as soon as the chiko has been arranged. The 
saying with which this account ends, ' Come back 
to-morrow," means they are to return for the marriage to 
be completed. 

3. Another form of betrothal is termed bubadikile : a 
word derived from the verb kubadikila, which means, "to 
cause somebody to carry on his (or her) back for somebody 
else." It signifies that a man becomes betrothed to a 
young girl, perhaps to a baby, and contributes to her 
support until she is ready to be married. He causes, or 
helps, the mother to rear the child for him. What takes 
place is shown in the following account : 

" It may be one like my daughter Namunza {i.e. about 
four) : a man loves her (or wants her) and says : ' That's 
my wife.' As for me, I suppose that he is joking ; then 
one day I see a blanket which he has sent, saying, ' Take 
this to my wife.' Again on another day, if he finds meat he 
sends it, saying, ' Take this to my wife.' Why, then that 
man must be respected, and when he arrives and says, 
' You are seen, father/ and salutes by clapping his hands, 
you also clap your hands for him. Another day he will 
send a potful of fat and it arrives ; he will go on doing 
this all the time. Mayhap there is no good fortune, and 
while the child is still growing, the man to whom she is 
betrothed dies. Well, then you weep, and the child becomes 
a widow. If she be not shaven, at least she has all her hair 
cut off, and is called a widow. When the mourning is over, 
he who eats the name of the deceased follows just into 
their betrothal. He goes there and they do not forbid him, 
for he also is a son-in-law (mukwe) ; he does just the same, 
sending things just as the other did. Afterwards when the 
child is grown up they talk about the selfsame chiko. He 


also gives the chiko, the amount stated. Whether they 
decide upon ten or four cattle he will give it, and will marry 

In this way it sometimes happens that a very young 
girl is betrothed to a man greatly her senior, perhaps a 
hoary old polygamist, or at least one old enough to be her 
grandfather. The girls cannot be expected to welcome such 
a state of affairs ; in fact, to our knowledge, many of them 
strenuously rebel, even to the extent of running away. 
But if one runs away, she is chased and brought back for- 
cibly to her husband. It is by no means a matter of mere 
coquetry ; we have known many cases where the young 
girls were forced into a relationship that they abhorred. 
Very often before the marriage takes place she has conceived 
an affection for a lad of her own age. We have known 
instances where in such an event the old man has been 
induced for a consideration to relinquish his claim ; but, 
generally speaking, the girl has to obey. Once married, she 
may find herself fairly happy, as she may be the favoured 
wife, and especially as custom allows her to console herself 
with more youthful lovers. 

The things given by the man to the girl's parents are 
called the chibonesho (" the sign ") ; the purpose being not 
only to assist in the child's upkeep but also as a token to 
all that the child is bespoken. 

Before she becomes properly his wife, the man has 
certain rights over her. When she is about ten she is taken 
to his hut and they cohabit. She may carry out the custom 
to be mentioned later (kunyonkola mazha), but all the time 
she remains at his home she may not speak to him. If he 
orders her, say, to fetch water, she must obey in silence. 
When she first menstruates, she goes to her home to pass 
through the initiation ceremony, and then the marriage 
proper takes place. 

5. The Chiko 

The goods given by, or on behalf of, the bridegroom to 
the clansmen and parents of the bride are called the chiko. 
To give such things is kukwa. It would be incorrect to 
translate this term " dowry," for, according to the dictionary, 



a dowry is the portion a woman brings to her husband. 
It is also misleading to call the chiko a bride-price. To us 
it may seem to be a matter of buying and selling, but the 
Ba-ila would repudiate any such idea. They use quite 
different words for the two kinds of transaction. To buy 
is kuula ; and the word is used not only of ordinary 
merchandise but of slaves. A slave is muntu nucule (" a 
bought person "), but the term is never used of a wife. 
The woman is not bought. Her husband does not acquire 
such proprietary rights in her as he does in a slave that he ,_ 
purchases. The chiko is more properly regarded as a com- u 
pensation to the girl's clan, a return to parents and guardians 
for the expense they have incurred in her rearing, the seal , 
oTa^colitract by which she is to become the mother of the 
man's children, and a guarantee of good treatment. We 
therefore avoid using the terms dowry and bride-price, and 
keep to the native term, chiko. 

Whether a slave is proud of the price paid for him, as 
an indication of his worth ; and whether a ten-pound slave 
looks down upon a five-pound slave are matters we do not 
know; but certainly a woman among the Ba-ila has a certain 
pride in the amount of chiko given by her husband, because 
it is an indication of her worth in his eyes. The chiko is 
an acknowledgment that the marriage is an honourable 
one, and even Ba-ila women have some feeling on that 

A case in point was once brought into court. A as a 
child was married by B, who gave for her an ox-skin and 
two calabashes of fat. Later on, when she was visiting her 
own home, another man, C, fell in love with her and married 
her. B naturally complained of this to the girl's parents, 
and they endeavoured to console him by saying that perhaps 
he might get her later. The girl soon tired of this interim 
husband and went back to B, saying she left C because he 
was poor, and did not know how to work like others ; she 
also said she would not stay with a man who had given 
jiothm^jfor her. Womanlike, she had plenty of reasons, 
and the true one, as usual, was the last. 

The amount of the chiko depends upon the position of 
the girl and the wealth of the suitor and his backers. — 

vol. 11 E 




Here are the items in some of the settlements we have 
known : 

(i) One blanket, three goats, one hoe, one basket of 
salt. (2) Two oxen, one cow. (3) Two impande shells, one 
blanket, five shillings' worth of print, and some beads. 
(4) Four cows and three oxen. (5) One cow, one ox, one 
blanket, ten shillings in cash, and one impande shell. (6) 
Nine hoes, two blankets, six yards of calico. (7) (Basala) 
Six sheep, one goat, two loaves of tobacco, and one ox. 
(8) (Basala) Two cows, one ox, one impande, and five 
strings of beads. 

For a chief's daughter as much as thirty head of cattle 
may ha ve to b ejgiyen. It is said that at Nanzela formerly 
the chiefs would not allow of a big chiko ; two or three 
hoes were to be sufficient. We have known of as little as 
three strings of beads being given there. But in later 
years they have taken to imitating the Ba-ila proper in 
demanding substantial amounts. Generally speaking, we 
may reckon the chiko as four or five head of cattle, say from 
£12 to £15. 

The amount having been arranged, the bridegroom or 
his representatives, as we saw in a previous chapter, seek 
help among their family and clan. The man's chief helps 
and he himself does what he can. The help is readily given 
and the chiko paid over, not necessarily in a lump, but 
often in instalments as it is forthcoming. As the chiko is 
contributed by the bridegroom's clansmen mostly on the 
one hand, so, on the other, it is distributed mostly among 
the bride's clansmen ; the parents, especially the father, 
getting little of it. The one who gets the lion's share is 
the Shimalelo, the guardian of the girl. The mother always 
has her portion called mukako ("of the belt"). If the 
chiko is given in hoes there may be ten, and a further five, 
mamba osanwe a mukako wa baina (" five hoes of the mother's 
belt ") ; or if it be ten head of cattle, musune wa mukako 
(" an ox of the belt "). Another portion is called lushila, 
given to defray the expenses of doing up the girl's hair 
with chishila (" ochre ") : this is perhaps not part of the 
actual chiko, but like the muyumusho more a sign of 
appropriation given before the settlements are made. An 


occasion like this becomes a kind of clearing-house for all 
disputes and claims ; and infinite adjustment is required 
before the whole business is completed. 

It is regarded as wrong ever to dispose of the offspring 
of the cattle received as chiko. The calves as born may go 
to clansmen who could not be given their portion at first. 

Rescission of the chiko is claimable by the parties who 
give it on the following grounds : virulent or contagious 1 ' 
disease ; laziness ; neglect to provide husband with food 
by hoeing or by cooking ; inability to bear children. 
Persistent adultery is a ground rarely put forward. Should 
the woman be incapacitated by accident, the husband 
would claim another wife. And in the same way, if she 
dies her people must provide a woman to take her place. 

If for any reason the man is dissatisfied with his wife 
and wishes the chiko returned ; or if the relations of the wife 
have reason to be dissatisfied with him and refuse to give 
up anything ; or if the woman runs away to join another 
man : then endless disputes arise occasioning litigation. 

We may quote the following cases to illustrate the 
kind of litigation that arises. They throw light upon the 
life of the Ba-ila in certain aspects. 

(1) In one case the girl was a slave and her parents 
went to the man and offered her as his wife. She had had 
two husbands previously. Her release was obtained and 
he married her. After a time he got sick with syphilis, 
and as her mother was also ill he sent her home to visit. 
He went to see her several times ; but when he wanted her 
back the mother put him off by saying that she was working 
in the fields. Then he heard they had married her to another 
man. He was disgusted with this, and instead of trying to 
regain her he put in a claim for^ thejreturn of the chiko he 
had given. 

(2) A married the daughter of B ; then later B took 
her away and gave her to C. When A put in a claim against 
him C gave him a woman D in settlement. On his way 
home A called at B's, who seized D on the pretext that 
she had thrown ash on him — a serious offence. He after- 
wards promised to send D back to A, but as she did not 
come A went for her, and they threatened to kill him. 


For four years he continued to try to get the woman, but 
in vain. He lost both women and also the chiko he had 
given for the first. 

(3) A took B as his wife when she was a child, and she 
stayed at his brother's. When the latter died, C took both 
her and another girl as inheritance. Then D married her, 
giving chiko to C, and promised to compensate any one 
who claimed her. Then A paid an ox to C for B and got 
possession of her ; A also gave a boy and some tobacco 
to her father. When D sought to get her, A admitted that 
D was the lawful husband and claimed five cows to release 
her. In the event B was returned to D. 

(4) M married a girl N in childhood, and when she 
grew up she went back to her home as the parents were 
not satisfied with the chiko. M said he would continue to 
work and add to the amount. Meanwhile O came along, 
fell in love with N, and his father went to her parents, who 
agreed to the marriage, saying that M had given only a 
bit of tobacco and some beads, and if he claimed for them 
they would settle with him. Then M put in his claim, 
saying that he had lived with her two years. N's father 
then said that M had left the girl for some time, and when 
she had gone to the initiation he refused to come to the 
dance, thus repudiating her. So O kept her. 

(5) This is a good instance of the extraordinary way in 
which these claims become entangled. 

A man named Lushika died (he was Namudionto's 
brother's son) and Shisumba took the name. One of the 
wives did not like him and went off to Kabulamwanda and 
married Nalubi (Husband No. 2). Then later Sichianji 
saw her at Mala and married her (Husband No. 3). He 
promised to pay two cows for her, but as he failed to do 
so her parents took her away. Then she went to Lubwe, 
and Namudionto said, " There's my brother's son's wife ; I 
will take her." He paid two cows, one blanket, and an 
ox to the parents (Husband No. 4). Now the complications 
arose. When Namudionto's nephew married, Namudionto 
had given three cows towards the chiko, and when 
Namudionto's brother died, Namudionto's nephew, Lushika, 
took a cow as his share of the inheritance. Namudionto 


had two sons ; the younger, Molo, lived with him, and the 
other, Shaba, lived with the Sichianji mentioned above. 
When Molo wanted to join his brother, Namudionto 
stopped his wife and Sichianji stopped another wife that 
he had got. Sichianji also took a cow from Chilondo, 
telling him to go and claim the woman from Namudionto ; 
that is, he transferred his claim in her to this man Chilondo. 
Thereupon Chilondo claimed the wife or a cow from 
Namudionto. The cow Sichianji took from Chilondo 
belonged to Namudionto, so Namudionto claimed a cow 
back from Sichianji. 

(6) R married S when she was young and gave a shell 
and five hoes for her. Before R married her, sHeTTa^TBeen 
promised to T, who had given a cow, ten baskets of salt, 
and two hoes. Then another man, U, gave T a cow for his 
rights, and when R took her U claimed a cow from him 
and he refused to pay. The girl rejected her original suitors 
and said she loved U. 

(7) A died of smallpox ten years before this case came 
up. B took his name and married C. Then C got into 
trouble through a woman taking medicine because her 
children all died after birth, and the woman's people took 
C as a slave in consequence. A man, D, redeemed her 
with a cow and an ox and took her to wife, to the annoyance 
of B, who had not been told of the trouble. B then made 
a claim against D. C lived with D for years and then ran 
back to B. B then claimed from D for C's children, and 
D claimed against B for the return of C. 

(8) X took the girl Y as his share of an inheritance. 
Then Z married Y, giving X as chiko a person and an ox. 
Then Z died and X brought an ox to mourn with at the 
funeral and asked for a big present in return. Z's son gave 
him the girl Y. Then X asked for more and was given 
another person, and as Y did not wish to stay with him 
she gave a slave to release herself. However, X took 
away the woman, and then Z's son brought a claim against 
him for the return of his wife, and got her. 

(9) F married G and then H took her away. She ran 
away from H, and another man, I, seized her and took her 
to his hut. Her husband was away working at the time, 


and on his return he claimed against I. In his defence 
I declared that H had given her to him in payment of a 
fault. The woman said that of the three men she wanted 
F : and she was sent back to him as the result of the case. 

(10) X wanting a wife went to the parents of B's wife 
and they gave him B's daughter, i.e. their granddaughter. 
X gave five cows as chiko and they handed B a small ox 
and a small cow as his share. Then the girl died and 
according to Ila custom the sister should have taken her 
place. As there was no other daughter, X claimed for the 
return of the chiko. The parents had to find him another 
wife to settle the case. 

(n) This case was over a woman who had died three 
years before. As a girl she (we call her A) was promised to 
B and he gave her to C. C paid chiko of an ox to her father. 
Then B made a claim against C for the return of his wife, 
and C gave him ten baskets of salt, two blankets, and two 
strings of beads, which went to the father. Then B took 
A and C seized a cow from the father. The woman was 
two years with C and one with B. Now five years after, 
the girl having died in the meantime, the father brought a 
case against C for the cow. 

(12) The following is an instance of how a man may be 
held accountable to his parents-in-law for the death of 
his wife. A married B's daughter. She fell sick and he 
asked for medicine and got it from the parents. After her 
death B claimed and got ten cows from A because his 
daughter had died of an unknown disease. 

These cases are quoted as specimens of what is continually 
occurring, and they show clearly how fragile the marriage 
bond is among the Ba-ila. Women are bandied about from 
man to man ; and of their own accord leave one husband 
for another. It is no unusual thing for a young woman 
scarcely out of her teens to have had four or five husbands, 
all still living. 

6. Marriage Ceremonies 

Following immediately, in most cases, after the Initiation 
rites, come the marriage ceremonies, which we will first 
describe in the natives' own words : 


" So when all is done (i.e. the Initiation) they take the 
girl to where she is to be married. And they tell the men 
who are at the village, ' When you hear us shout, catch 
hold of the man (i.e. the bridegroom).' When they arrive 
before the village they shout, and those in the village 
catch the bridegroom and carry him to his home. They 
put the man into his house. As soon as it is dark they 
take the woman to his house and they sleep. After the 
marriage is consummated, the bridegroom rises, takes 
strings of beads equal in total length to the measurement 
of the bride from head to foot, and hangs them on the 
bedpost. He also puts a hoe on the fireplace. Primo 
diluculo mulier experrecta capillum de viri pube et de maxillis 
vellere coepit, dum omnia levigentur. Ad galli cantum 
anus, ilia intrat nudosque inspirit, digitis suis viri pubem 
maxillasque temptans. Turn si levia omnia invenit magna voce 
inclamat : ' puella haec praeceptis meis paruit.' The old woman 
takes the beads from the bedpost and the hoe from the fire- 
place — they are her reward — and after sweeping the house, 
goes her way. In the morning the man's people cook bread 
and relish and take the newly married couple there. When 
they arrive they place bread between them (as they sit 
face to face) with the relish. The woman breaks off a 
morsel, dips it into the relish, and gives it to the man ; and 
the man also breaks, dips, and gives a piece to the woman. 
When he has done this, he gives her a name, saying : ' It 
is So-and-so.' The woman refuses it. Says he : ' So-and-so.' 
The woman refuses it. Again he says : ' Well perhaps So- 
and-so.' The woman nods her head, which is to say that 
she agrees. 

' Now this bread is given to all the people, old and 
young, that they may eat and join in ' the-eating-of-bread ' 
(madyanshima) . So they eat and sleep ; next day they 
sleep ; on the third day come the woman's sisters and all 
her relations ; they come to fwenezha. And the man begs 
things from all the community ; one gives him beads, another 
a fish-spear, another a spear, a hoe, an axe, anything. He 
puts them in his house. When the visitors arrive they 
bring a basket of meal and he puts into it a hoe. When 
he has done this well, they who fwenezha go into his house 


and he gives one a fish-spear, another beads, another a 
spear, and another an axe. When they have all got some- 
thing they return home. 

" Next day the woman goes to her home ; she goes to 
throw away the masansa ; she goes to spend two nights, on 
the third she returns. So ends the account of a marriage." 

We may supplement this account by another. 

" Now in the evening they come to fetch her and on 
arrival they hide near by. Then they go. They (the men) 
catch the bridegroom and say : ' You are to marry to-day.' 
Then when the women give their shrill cry and he hears it 
he loses heart (lit. his heart comes out) and leaving them 
he runs away to hide. Then they bring the son of his uncle 
to sleep with the woman to ' eat her the marriage ' [kumudya 
bwinga). When he has done this, next morning they fetch 
the bridegroom that he may give the name. Then they 
cook bread ; having done this, they make them eat together. 
Then they tell the man : ' Give the name.' He gives her 
a name, saying: ' It is So-and-so.' If the woman likes it 
she agrees, if she doesn't like it she refuses by shaking her 
head ; she may not speak to indicate her refusal. Again 
he gives her another name and then she agrees. 

" After spending three days with her husband the 
woman goes to her home to throw away the masansa ; 
the man takes a spear and accompanies her. When he 
arrives before the village of his parents-in-law, he throws 
the spear in front of the woman ; she picks it up and takes 
it into the village. The man returns home. The woman 
enters the village of her people and sits. They begin to say 
to her : ' You have got up ! ' She answers : ' I have got 
up.' Then they ask her : ' Is your husband good ? ' ' Yes, 
he is good.' They sleep and next morning they give their 
child meal and she takes it to the house of her parents-in- 
law ; and on arrival she hands it to her husband's people, 
because she hasn't yet begun to do their own cooking. 
Then after two days her namesake comes to see her and 
takes a hoe ; on arrival she gives the woman the hoe and 
returns. And the husband goes begging things to fwenezha 
withal and to feed them from his relations and comrades 
and brothers-in-law They all give him things. He returns 


and sleeps. Next day they arrive to fwenezha ; they enter 
the house and sit and have bread cooked for them and eat. 
When they have done eating they are given beads and 
spears. All have something. Then in the basket they put 
a hoe and then return home and stay. After a time the 
people of the man collect grain and make beer of the- 
cooking-for-themselves (kudiikila) and they mould the fire 
cones {mafua). They who mould them are the people of 
the woman. They drink beer, and sing, and the people of 
the woman instruct their child, saying : ' You are grown 
to-day. Cook for yourselves ; a man is to be given food 
when alone. When he has done eating with many people 
and you enter the house, give the-food-put-by (mafubikila) , 
which you have hidden, whether it be beer or bread, give 
it him and he will eat.' And they also instruct the man : 
' That child of others is to have fruit gathered for her and 
be anointed with fat and clothed with rugs. That is good 
husbandship, and if you do not anoint her they will take 
her away from you.' Then when they have done telling 
them these things there remains the entering of his mother- 
in-law's house and the parents-in-law make beer. Then 
when he enters the house they also will give him a hoe. 
When they begin drinking beer the mother-in-law hands 
him a hoe. That is partly doing away with the taboo, 
and all that remains is to shout and say : ' You are seen, 
O father of So-and-so.' " 

From these accounts we may gather that the following 
elements enter into the constitution of a marriage : 1. The 
teaching of the girl and of the man ; 2. The hiding away 
of the bridegroom ; 3. The kudya bwinga ; 4. Kunyonkola 
mazha ; 5. The madyanshima ; 6. Giving the new name : 
kundika; y . Ku/wenezha ; 8. Kusowa masansa ; 9. Throwing 
the spear; 10. Kudiikila; 11. Entering the mother-in- 
law's house. 

Some of these are explicable as Rites de passage : 
ceremonies accompanying and symbolising the passing out 
from an old stage of life into a new one, and there is a 
recognition that this transition is accompanied by some 
danger arising out of entering into the unknown. The 
instruction given to the young people as described here 


and in connection with the Initiation, seems to be in the 
nature of a separation rite : they are no longer children, 
but are about to enter into new relations and need to be 
prepared for their duties. Much of this teaching is admirably 
practical in character. The hiding away of the bridegroom 
is also separative : it is to be explained not as mere bashful- 
ness on his part but as due to dread of the unknown. It 
is thus that the people explain it themselves. Probably 
the counterpart of this action of the boy is the custom of 
kudya bwinga : both are due to the desire to escape from 
some mysterious miasma arising from the union of the 
sexes. A young boy, chosen for the purpose, spends the 
first night with the bride. Between them friendly relations 
continue to exist afterwards, and they address each other 
as mwa&hangu. It is as if something physical and tangible 
existed which needs to be removed by the boy in order 
that the marriage may be consummated with impunity. 
It is difficult to reconcile this with the fact of pre-nuptial 
unchastity. It cannot be the passage from maidenhood, 
as we understand it, that must be accomplished that night, 
for the simple reason that there is little or no likelihood 
of the woman being a virgin when she comes to the marriage 
bed. It may possibly be a custom surviving from times 
when pre-nuptial intercourse was more strictly prohibited. 
Or it may have its origin in that play-acting that is so 
characteristic of these savage races x ; they pretend that a 
thing is not that really is, in order to mislead the mysterious 
powers that rule their life. The bride is not a virgin : 
anything inherent in her that would damage her husband 
has really long since been removed by other men ; true, 
we may suppose them to say, but let us act as if it were 
not so, so that if there be any penalty we may avoid it. 
After the marriage, the bride goes back to her people for 
two or three days, for the purpose, as they say, kusowa 
masansa (" to throw away the masansa "). What that 
is we cannot explain : it seems to be allied to the lusasa 
to be explained in another connection ; and to be something 
that results from sexual intercourse. If that is so, then 

1 " In ritual, fiction is frequently as good as fact." — Dr. Farnell, Cults 
of the Greek States, vol. iv. p. 188. 


something in the woman has already been conveyed to the 
boy ; now what was in the man has been conveyed to the 
woman and she gets rid of it by visiting her home. 

These, we say, may be regarded as separation rites ; 
others are much more definitely aggregation rites. The 
young people are assimilated by certain things ; and their 
families are also brought into closer relationship through 
them ; the bridegroom is especially brought into relationship 
with his wife's family: The first of these ceremonies is 
kunyonkola mazha. It is the custom of the Ba-ila to remove 
all hair growing on the pubes ; both boys and girls pluck 
it out on its appearance, and continue to do so afterwards. 
The reason given is that they may be clean. It is impossible 
to tell whether they mean physically or ceremonially clean : 
the one idea merges into the other and the word used, 
kusalala, expresses both, though more often the latter. 
The woman does for the man what he has been accustomed 
to do for himself ; she will continue to do it during their 
married life. We may therefore see in this a symbol of 
the wife's subordination to her husband. In the next 
ceremony, that of madyanshima, on the other hand, we see 
a recognition of the equality of the two : they eat together, 
in a way that reminds us of the Roman custom of 
confarreatio. Eating together means union in close friend- 
ship between equals. The next custom, of giving a new 
name, shows very clearly that the woman has passed into 
a new stage of existence ; to get a new name is to be reborn, 
remade ; she is no longer the girl she was, but something 
else. She shows her reluctance to pass into this by refusing 
the first names proposed. 

The husband and his wife are now one ; but there are 
the relations to consider. According to the Ila proverb, 
" Shimukwelansanzhi inkwaya weletelela " (" He who pulls a 
branch brings the leaves with it "), if you marry a woman 
you marry her family too. Not only have you given the 
chiko, but now after the marriage is consummated her 
people come to get what they can out of you, kufwenezha ; 
it is their way of recognising you as their relation. The 
"throwing of the spear" when the woman returns to her 
home is not explicable. But the kudiikila is readily 


understood. Up to this time the two young people have 
not commenced housekeeping on their own account. But 
now the bride's people mould the mafua — the conical 
lumps of baked clay used to support the fire ; and the bride 
henceforth is to be mistress of her own menage. One 
more ceremony remains. Between the man and his wife's 
family, especially her mother, a very strict taboo exists, 
which if it were kept in its entirety would prevent any 
social intercourse. So at the final feast she hands her 
son-in-law a hoe, taking the initiative in approaching him, 
and henceforth he is free of her house under restrictions. 
As our informant quoted above has it, kwamana kutonda 
chinichini ("that is partly doing away with the taboo"). 
Now they salute the bridegroom not by his own name but as 
" Baushe nini " (" the father of So-and-so "). So ends the 
ceremonial. This last part of it may not be carried out 
until after the birth of the first child. 

The Marriage of a Widower and of a Widow 

What happens in the case of a widower is shown in the 
following account : 

" If the woman dies they weep very much and spend 
five days before seizing the heiress. Next day {i.e. the sixth) 
they shave the widower's head and give him a hoe on 
which he treads, and also the chishonsho. So he begins to 
inherit ; in the evening they seize the heiress. Then they 
put out the fire which is in the house, and only leave that 
which is outside. They put a sherd on the fire and it gets 
red-hot. They put the woman into the house ; when he 
arrives he sits and cuts away the strings around her loins, 
throwing them on the ground, so that she is left naked. 
Inde lumbis tantum mulieris vir mentulam admovet 
(wachompa) and the woman coughs so that they hear who 
are sitting at the door. When she coughs they bring that 
red-hot sherd, putting it on some grass and quickly carrying 
it so. The grass catches fire. Then those two lying on the 
bed move apart, and the people light a fire from that of 
the sherd ; that fire is thus a new one and the woman 
becomes new. So they sleep. Next morning they anoint 



her with fat and take her outside. Then the man's relations 
clap their hands and begin to charge her, saying : ' Look 
after us well just as the deceased looked after us.' And 
others say to the man : ' You also, you must gather fruit 
for her just as you gathered it for the deceased.' Again, 
that woman, if she does not like him, returns to the house 
of him who brought her up. If he be a vagabond she leaves 
him. Or if he who married her first is a vagabond she leaves 
him and stays where she ate the name." 

A little explanation will clear up several obscure things 
in this narrative. The widower on the death of his wife 
is taboo ; he may not go visiting until the vacant hut is 
again occupied. There is hanging about him something 
contagious : something left over from his marital relation- 
ship with his deceased wife. This is called lusasa, or bv 
others chibinde. We have heard this explained as being the 
spirit (muzhimo) of the deceased which attaches itself to 
him and his clothes ; but it would appear to be physical K> ,: 

rather than psychical, for it can be got rid of by transferring 
it to somebody else. 

A friend of his deceased wife comes to his hut and 
by having intercourse with her he gets rid of the miasma, 
and so is ready to marry again. The people to whom he 
gave chiko for his first wife have to provide a substitute ; 
before they do this the procedure of kudya chishonsho must 
be gone through. The relations of the wife and the widower 
exchange presents ; first of all they present him with a 
hoe, on which, for some esoteric reason, he places his foot. 
In the evening the woman's people put her into a hut, 
out of which all fire is carefully removed. Then the man 
enters, and removes her garments and the belt or strings 
around her waist. It ought to be said that this woman 
has perhaps been married before and is now taken away from 
her husband for the purpose of " eating the name " of the 
deceased. As such she is unclean, the contagion of her 
former marriage is still about her ; by throwing off her 
garments, and especially the belt, the new husband throws 
away the contagion. Then follows the action named 
above. On hearing the signal given by the cough, the people 
enter, bearing a brand of grass, lighted from a red-hot 



sherd, and a new fire is kindled in the hut. As it is signifi- 
cantly stated, the fire is new and the woman also becomes 

In the case of a widow, she also is taboo, and may not 
carry on her usual occupations, nor marry again, until the 
lusasa (or chibinde) is removed. This is done, some say, by 
a boy coming into the house and cutting the belt (kukosola 
mukaba is the name of the operation) . Others say a relation 
of the deceased husband has intercourse with her ; and 
this also is kukosola mukaba, even though the belt may not 
be actually cut. If neither of the things happens, the 
woman goes about seeking a man to take away the contagion 
from her. 

The widow for three days after her husband's death is 
not allowed to prepare food for herself lest she should 
injure the vessels by infecting them with her contagion. 
A woman is appointed to give her food and is later given 
a new hoe by the widow. When the relations of the deceased 
meet to appoint the heir who shall take the widow, she 
has a say in the matter ; and there is a special word 
(kutangaza) which describes the woman's way of refusing 
first one and then another until she gets the man she wants. 
After the cleansing process just described has been carried 
out, she is put into a hut with the new husband and the 
new fire is lighted and the other things done as narrated 
above of the widower. After the mourning and before 
taking the new husband she is freshly shaved, and given 
chishonsho, a cow or ox ; if this should be omitted the heirs 
of the deceased's property would be regarded as having 
committed buditazhi against her. The woman who shaves 
the widow must also be rewarded by the heir. 

A namantezi is a woman whose children all die. The 
name is also applied to a man whose wives die in childbirth. 
It is believed that should the first die in childbirth, the 
second and third will do the same, but the fourth will 
survive. Why, with such a belief, women will consent to 
be the second and third wives we do not know, unless it is 
an instance of the fatalism so strongly marked in the Ba-ila. 


Marriage of a Chief's Daughter, and of a Chief 

Among the Ba-ila proper there is no difference in proced- 
ure in the case of a chief's marriage or the marriage of his 
daughters. But at Nanzela there is this custom. When a 
chief's daughter is grown up she tells her people that she 
wishes to marry a certain man whom she names. Owing to 
her position she has the right of choosing her own partner. 
They send a messenger to pour over the chosen man a potful 
of fat, which must be, wholly or in part, that of a hyena. 
This is the equivalent of making the man a slave. By 
marrying the chief's daughter he becomes a mukwetunga, i.e. 
the son-in-law of the ruling family, and the position is practi- 
cally one of serfdom : as they say, " Bukwetunga mbuzhike " 
(" Son - in - lawship - to - a - chief is slavery "). The man's 
friends are quite insensible of the honour bestowed upon 
him ; indeed the messenger runs the risk of severe maltreat- 
ment at their hands. But once the fat is thrown over the 
man he can only escape his destiny by payment of a heavy 
ransom. If none is forthcoming, he is taken to the headmen 
and they instruct him in the duties of bukwetunga, impressing 
particularly upon his mind the necessity of continence as 
far as other women are concerned. If he is at all obstreperous 
he may be soused in the river until he is half-dead. That 
takes the devil out of him. In his new position he is avoided 
by the women. Si qua mulier cum illo coire audeat, statim 
earn arripiunt pudendique labias maiores recidunt. No such 
law of faithfulness is imposed upon the chief's daughter ; 
she, without blame, has the run of the men. 

Similarly, if a chief so admires a woman that he wishes 
to marry her, he sends some women to throw a pot of fat 
over her. They go stealthily, and having achieved their 
object run off in fear of the consequences. The woman is 
brought and she is instructed in her duties and especially 
warned against unfaithfulness. If she is obstinate or 
recalcitrant, she also may be half-drowned to subdue her 
spirit. If she is lascivious and goes to other men, they will, 
or rather would under the old regime, be killed. Of such a 
man they say : " Wakaya ku mibanga, wadiyazha mwini " 
{" He went to forbidden things and so destroyed himself "). 



PT. Ill 

7. Polygyny 

Whether the preponderance of females over males is 
due to such general causes as the hot climate, the plenteous 
food-supply, or the practice of exogamy, certainly it seems a 
fact that there is an excess of female births among the 
Ba-ila, and while the proportions may be increased owing 
to the higher mortality of the males, the census shows a 
surplus of fully 10 per cent of adult women over men. 
This means, of course, that in a system of strict monogamy 
ten women out of every hundred would remain unmarried. 
But celibacy is regarded by the Ba-ila as highly unnatural, 
and the ambition of all the men is to marry as early and 
to have as many wives as possible. As a matter of fact, 
monogamous marriages are in the majority ; for there are 
two conditions of polygyny which cannot always, with the 
best of wills, be met ; namely, first the women and secondly 
the chiko. Owing to the small excess of women only ten 
men out of every hundred should be able to get more than 
one wife, and these extra wives, in the nature of the case, 
would fall to the men who could best afford to give chiko 
for them. And when some men have up to twenty wives it 
is evident that many have to do without any. There is 
always a number of men without wives. On the other 
hand, there are always many unmarried women. Most 
of these are slaves and may be said to live in a state of 
concubinage. A slave is often given to wife, but frequently 
the master, while not marrying her himself, is unwilling 
to forgo her services as labourer and concubine, though he 
may give her temporarily to a man without a wife. 

Having mentioned this point, we may reproduce here 
what we were told by a man who himself had married a 
slave. " It is best," said he, "not to marry a slave. If 
you marry her, clothing her and giving chiko for her, the 
owner still has rights over her and will have intercourse 
with her secretly. And no fault is attached to him ; it is 
his right because he had to travel far perhaps to purchase 
a her. And if you have a quarrel with him, he will simply 
take her away altogether. Another reason for not marrying 
a slave is that she will not hoe well in her own fields but 


only in her master's. Better to marry a free woman and 
then her people will help you to hoe your fields. Again, if 
you marry a slave and you die, her master takes her and 
the children and they become slaves." 

It seems superfluous to enquire into the reason for the 
polygynous propensities of the Ba-ila. The natural desires 
of men, who, it must be remembered, are by custom debarred 
from their wives for lengthy periods, find allies in economic 
considerations, for the more wives the more likelihood of 
the husband having plenty to eat and the better his status 
among his fellows. The idea also prevails, in direct contra- 
diction to what we should say is the truth, that a multiplicity 
of wives means so many more children, and children are 
always an object of desire. Other reasons given by the 
men are that they may have a wife to lend to a friend or 
visitor, and that their wives may be able to provide visitors 
with plenty to eat. 

It is well pointed out by Westermarck that " polygyny 
implies a violation of woman's feelings." Ba-ila women 
can be most furiously jealous ; and the only things that 
reconcile them to sharing their husbands with other women 
are the fact that many hands make light work and the 
reflected dignity that comes of being the wife, albeit an 
inferior one, of a wealthy man. 

Polygyny is called modi ; a polygynist is shimadi ; to 
marry more than one wife is kuadika bakazhi ; and to be 
married to a polygynist is kuadikwa. 

Some interesting glimpses into such a state of life are 
afforded by the following native account : 

" If she has no fault, a man will tell his wife, ' I am 
going to marry another.' If on account of jealousy the 
wife does not like it, she will refuse to allow it. Then perhaps 
the husband gives her things and propitiates her and she 
agrees. So he does this : he seeks to wife a woman, or an 
initiated girl, or a young girl. And the people of the girl, 
if they do not wish her to become the wife of a polygynist, 
refuse, and say : ' We have no child to be a polygynist's 
wife.' Perhaps after a time they will agree. The man's 
chief wife {nabukando) goes seeking a wife for him to the 
mother of the man her husband, and they say : ' Won't 

vol. 11 F 


you be constantly fighting ? ' The woman says : ' It depends 
upon our natures, perhaps we shall fight.' Then they agree 
who have the girl sought in marriage and she is married 
by that man. When they marry thus, he will build two 
houses side by side, or one in another enclosure, for fear 
they should fight if they were side by side. Then as to the 
duties of that man to the two wives : if he gather firewood 
for the chief wife, it must be in greater quantity than for 
the lesser wife. If he clothes one with a goatskin, he must 
also clothe the other in a goatskin. If he draws water he 
will carry two calabashes, and if one is full he must fill 
the other to the brim so that the wives may not fight. 
Because if he does not do so, they will often be a-fighting. 
One will say, ' I am not loved,' and then they will fight. 
With food the same. If at one house she cooks bread, 
and he eats and finishes it, there also at the other house he 
must go and finish it. If he does not, those women will 
fight ; one says, ' As for me, my bread he didn't finish it, 
whereas he did finish yours.' If he sleeps four nights in 
one house, he must also sleep four in the other. He will 
sit and talk a while at the one house in the evening and then 
go to the other to sleep. That is how he does, and perhaps 
they won't fight ; if he does not do so they will constantly 
be fighting. Again, if the spears at one house number four, 
at the other they must also number four. And axes the 
same : at one house an axe and at the other an axe : blankets 
and stools the same. When the husband changes about, he 
does not take a pipe to the other house, nor a spear of this 
house, nor an axe, nor a rug, nor tobacco ; he must go 
and find them at the other house to which he goes. He 
who acts thus is the one to manage polygyny ; he will 
keep married to those wives always. Whereas if he does 
not act thus, he cannot manage polygyny. One of them 
will run away and go to her home, and there at her home 
they may refuse to let her return, saying, ' We have no 
child to be treated ficklely and made into a servant. She 
also is a daughter just as the other one you married.' So 
they will restrain her ; if they keep her thus he gets back 
the chiko. If he is clever he will say when they return the 
chiko : ' I throw away the woman : when I am dead the 



cattle will belong to many.' His relations will miss him, 
and when they haven't him they will insist upon an 
equivalent for the cattle. That is why he will refuse the 
chiko and allow the woman to stay at her place." The 
idea is that by abandoning the cattle, when he dies his 
people will benefit ; the woman's people will have to find 
a wife for his heir or other relations, and be unable to claim 
any more chiko. 

From this it is very evident that the life of a polygynist 
is not always a rosy one ; if he wishes to preserve domestic 
peace he has to exercise considerable tact. While he must 
be careful to show no marked favour to one wife at the 
expense of another, there is a recognised scale of dignity 
in the family. The nabukando (chief wife), e.g., may, if the 
man is rich in cattle, have thirty cows allotted to her house- 
hold to milk, the second wife fifteen, and the third ten. 
While they fight among themselves they will in case of 
necessity unite against the husband. Cases are not unknown 
where the husband is chastised by his wives when they 
consider themselves slighted collectively by his attentions 
to other women. A friend of ours once witnessed such a 
scene in a village. The four wives of a man were giving 
him a thrashing and talking something like this : " Why 
did you marry us ? You spend your strength on other 
women and we have no children. Are we not women also ? 
If we cannot have children by you, what is the use of you ? 
We will all leave you." On the other hand, many poly- 
gynists are very devoted to their wives and live happily. 
We know of one such man, who, in his anxiety to satisfy 
his eleven wives, sought a strong aphrodisiac from a 
missiona^ that would enable him to visit them all each 

8. Lubambo 

In addition to the forms of marriage already described, 
there is a kind of Cicisbeism named Lubambo, which is 
really a species of polyandry. This is a recognised institution 
and one of those things that the Ba-ila very strongly hold 
to and very much resent any deprecation of. It differs 
from an ordinary system of paramours, in that there is a 


public ceremony, so that everybody knows of it, even the 
woman's husband. He cannot throw stones at his wife 
because he does the same. We have seen this public 
ceremony. One year we were present at the great annual 
gathering in honour of Shimunenga at Mala. There were 
hundreds of people present, all dressed in their best, singing 
and dancing around the grove sacred to the muzhimo. 
Then there was a lull, and we saw a procession of men 
approaching ; all of them in the extremity of Ba-ila finery. 
One of them was leading a young ox. The drums now 
resumed ; and another procession came forward, of women 
dressed finely. In the centre was one woman, conspicuous 
by her extra fine appearance : freshly shaven and anointed, 
and wearing polished bangles and a new lechwe skin. The 
two parties met, and the man formally presented the 
woman with the ox and received a spear in return. Then 
they separated, and singing and dancing were resumed by 
the whole multitude. What it meant was that these two 
had already agreed in private and now signified the fact 
publicly that they were lovers. At a feast, they, leaving 
their spouses, become partners and drink and sleep together. 
During the feasting no young man without such a lover is 
allowed entrance into the hut, but is driven away with 
ridicule. The next day, if the man is wealthy he may 
present the woman with a second ox, and she may give 
him a blanket. This is not a temporary arrangement 
simply for the feast, but continues as long as they desire, 
the man and woman paying each other visits at intervals. 
No Mwila male or female lacks these lovers. 

The system is called Lubambo ("an arranged thing "), 
from kubamba, to arrange. The paramour is called 

Husbands naturally exhibit great complacency in regard 
to this custom. To their minds it is the best policy, for 
they benefit by it. Occasionally they show resentment 
when the wife shows undue affection for her paramour. 
In one case we know of, a husband brought a claim against 
his wife's lover because she so often visited him that he 
thought she meant to leave him altogether. Once after 
she had been away visiting for a long period, she returned 


home and immediately announced her intention of going 
to her lover. This very naturally made the husband very 
angry. He said he would not have grumbled if she had 
stayed with him a day and then gone to her lover ; what 
he objected to was not only the indecent haste but also 
the manner in which she took to her lover the cloth that 
he gave her for clothing. So he brought a case against the 
lover to recover his wife. 

It must be noted that men and women are restricted in 
the choice of paramours : the same restrictions apply to 
lubambo as apply to marriage. The lover must also recognise 
the occasions when intercourse between man and wife is 
forbidden. It is, for instance, a serious offence for a man 
to visit his paramour while she is nursing a child : not 
because of any damage done to the woman, but simply 
because the child may suffer. Should he break this rule the 
husband would claim substantial damages 

9. Kusena 

In addition to the above there are less permanent forms 
of recognised sexual partnership. Kusena means to hand a 
wife temporarily to another man ; kusenana means to 
exchange wives. Kusena is a courtesy extended to a friend 
or honoured visitor. The woman is given a present, chipo, 
but this does not devolve any right upon the giver. Should 
he venture to enter the woman's hut on another occasion, 
without the husband's invitation, he would render himself 
liable to a fine for adultery. 

Kusenana is a mutual arrangement, for a brief or long 
period, by which each of two men gives the other the 
privilege of entering his wife's hut. Innumerable disputes 
arise out of this ; as when one thinks the other takes undue 

For example, Jongo andNamaunga made such an arrange- 
ment : the former used the other's wife several times, and 
Namaunga used Jongo's once. Jongo gave the woman a 
small ox, but the husband returned it saying that he wanted 
a big one. That was tantamount to breaking the agreement 
and claiming damages for adultery, and Jongo felt aggrieved. 


Jongo paid the ox demanded in addition to the small one, 
and bided his time. Then when Namaunga visited the 
other woman, Jongo made him pay two cows. 

While the arrangement is usually between married men, 
a man will sometimes lend his wife to a bachelor friend on 
the understanding that when he marries he will fulfil his 
share of the bargain. But it happens that sometimes the 
younger man does not feel inclined to do so, and then the 
other claims damages. Or it may be that the older man 
wishes to enjoy his privilege while refusing to allow the 
other a continuance of his. Such a case arose between two 
men, A and B, who were friends. Before A married, B 
used to allow him access to his wife. Then A married and 
B refused A his privilege while maintaining his own. This 
made A angry and he watched for his opportunity which 
came when some one told him that B had a sickness. He 
promptly claimed against B for making his wife sick. 

In all such cases children are recognised as the husband's. 
Sometimes a claim is brought against the man for causing 
the woman's pregnancy. In one case, after the agreement 
had been made and the man had given the woman a shell 
and a hoe as a present, the husband died leaving his wife 
pregnant. Then the husband's brother claimed against 
the man for making the woman pregnant. The man agreed 
to pay two oxen, a blanket, and a shell ; but the brother 
returned them and claimed a cow. 

The infertility of a marriage is a source of such disappoint- 
ment to both parties that neither can rest content with 
the other. The account given below explains what may 
happen in such an event ; and it will be seen that the 
custom of kusena may be practised when the -husband is 
impotent. First he proves that the cause of the infertility 
is in himself, and then hands his wife to a friend, bind- 
ing himself by an oath before the heads of the village 
not to charge him with adultery. Any children resulting 
from this will of course be acknowledged by the husband 
1 as his. 

' A woman who doesn't give birth is a harlot, many 
have pierced her womb and she will not bear children 
again. Even if she is handsome she will be divorced. If 


you do not divorce her, where are you going to find a 
child ? Then therefore if you are not an adulterer, you 
prove yourself by having intercourse with another woman, 
saying, ' Let us see whether I cannot give her a stomach.' 
If she conceives, those who laughed at you will be con- 
founded. Having thus proved that the sterility is in the 
wife, you divorce her. Or if you love her too much to 
divorce her, you build another house for a second wife who 
will bear children. Again, when a man marries a woman, 
they put them into a hut, that they may sleep together. 
Then when he does so, and he cannot manage to function, 
the next morning the woman rises early and goes to her 
mother-in-law's hut and sits down. And the man's people 
cook very early a little bread for the naming. They call 
the man, and he comes, and sits. When he breaks off a 
small morsel and gives it to the wife and she refuses to 
accept it, they know that their son is impotent, he has no 
strength. Then they speak to the woman : ' Just agree to 
the name.' Then he names her. And they say, ' All right, 
let us see how he is.' So at evening when they sleep together, 
and the same thing happens, in the morning they ask the 
woman, ' Can he do it ? ' She denies, and says, ' No, your 
son cannot. He is only a woman, what he ate was pap 
only, he is not a man who can beget children.' Then the 
woman rebels, and goes back to stay at her home. They 
then say to him, ' You must give your wife to another ' So 
he gives her to another man whom he loves, and brings 
her, saying, ' Let us go to the house.' Then she gets up 
and he brings her. On arrival he calls that friend of his 
and takes him to the elders that they may judge. Says he : 
' This friend of mine I bring to the elders here so that they 
may hear our business.' Then he says : ' This is the one 
that I lend (lit. give) my wife to, if they converse I will 
not bring a fault against him. Before the sun sets, let me 
die the death if I bring a fault against him.' So all salute 
and the woman is afterwards justified by bearing a child ; 
she cannot be expected to remain with him who is only a 
bit of pap." 


io. Adultery 

Besides these forms of recognised sexual relations, there 
is a very considerable amount of illicit intercourse that 
comes under the heading of Adultery. As we have already 
seen, it is attended by no moral disapprobation, but is 
looked upon as a breach of proprietary rights and reckoned 
as buditazhi. In former days the offence was often punished 
by cutting off the man's hands, as if he were a thief. That 
was only sometimes ; mostly then, and always now, the 
offence is met by the payment of a cow. The offender, 
unless he ransoms himself by paying a fine, is enslaved. 
Among the Batema there have been instances of a husband 
spearing the offender caught in the act, but we have never 
known such a thing among the Ba-ila ; they are usually 
content with a cow. 

If the woman is the wife of a chief, the damages may 
be increased to three cows. If the adultery be committed 
with a pregnant or nursing woman the offence is a very 
serious one, because of the harm done to the child. In a 
certain case the child was still-born and the woman suffered 
greatly. The husband claimed six cows from the adulterer. 
Should the woman die the case is still more serious : it is 
then a matter of Iwembe (" blood money "). Twenty cows 
will hardly expiate his crime. He has, as they say, kudia 
mutwi wa muntu (" to pay for the head of a person "). 

A feature of adultery cases is that very often they are 
not brought to court until a considerable time has elapsed. 
The woman keeps quiet, and then one day in an outburst 
of confidence, or perhaps when having an altercation with 
her husband, she tells him. He does not bear any resent- 
ment to her, but goes and claims damages from the adulterer. 

Sometimes a man makes a claim against another who 
" played " with his wife when they were still children. If 
he had not been betrothed to her in her childhood, he has 
no right to any damages, but he may succeed in bullying 
the man into parting with a beast or something. If the 
girl had been betrothed to him when the thing happened, 
he would be justified by custom in making the claim. 

In claims for adultery it is not necessary at all to prove 


that actual connection took place. Indeed the interfering 
with a woman's garment would be grounds for a claim. 
Cases have been known where a woman has been touched 
accidentally and a claim was made against the man for 

Finally, we must notice that it is a common custom for 
women, after agreement with their husbands, to go and pro- 
stitute themselves. They call this kuweza lubono munganda 
(" to hunt wealth in the house "). The woman returns with 
her report, and the husband straightway claims damages. 
The proceeds belong to him, the woman having to be con- 
tent with the chipo given her by the man, but after she has 
earned several cows for him, he may give her one, but she 
has no right to it. It happens sometimes that when a wife 
is divorced she puts in a claim against her husband for her 
share of these proceeds. Custom does not substantiate her 
claim, but if she is backed by an influential, strong man 
in the shape of a new husband she, or he, may succeed in 
forcing him to pay. A woman will say on such an occasion 
that she makes the demand because she hunted that game 

To illustrate the kind of thing that takes place, we 
may recall a famous case that was brought to the court at 
Namwala. In 1905 a man named Kalosa came to Mr. 
Dale to complain that his wife had run away ; as it transpired 
that he had thrashed her, Mr. Dale refused to intervene. 
Shortly afterwards a man named Shalampondo told Mr. 
Dale that he wished to marry this woman ; and was advised 
not to do so until she was properly divorced. He waited 
three weeks, and then, being much in love, he married the 
woman. As was to be expected, Kalosa's representative 
immediately claimed the woman ; the case came into 
court and damages were given against Shalampondo. 
Then the woman was divorced and Shalampondo married 
her properly. He kept her four or five years and then 
Kakobela, Kalosa's chief, tried to get her back, but failed 
because the chiko having been returned they had no more 
right to her. Kakobela declared his fixed intention to get 
her by hook or crook, no matter what the magistrate might 
say. Three months later the woman ran away from 


Shalampondo to Kakobela, and when a case was brought 
declared that she preferred the latter. Then another case 
came on to get back the chiko that Shalampondo had 
given. When the case was over, the woman put in a claim 
against Shalampondo for the proceeds of her prostitution 
while his wife ; as this was contrary to native law it was 
dismissed. But in such cases the success of the claimant 
depends less upon legality than upon his own influential 
position and his capacity for bullying. And Kakobela being 
a strong man would achieve his purpose. 

ii. Rape 

This is a common occurrence, though it does not often 
come before the European magistrate. Damages are given 
up to ten cows. 

One of the worst offences known to the Ba-ila is to 
assault a woman in her sleep. This applies, not only to 
an unmarried, but also to a married woman assaulted thus 
by her husband. A woman has been known to leave 
her husband for this cause. Of such a man the people 
say, " Watwala mukaintu, wamuteba madiabona, waditaya. 
Nkambo kakando " (" He married a woman, and had inter- 
course with her in her sleep, and so committed buditazhi. 
It is a great fault ").. 

12. Perversions 

Instances of sexual inversion are known, but whether 
congenital or acquired it is impossible to say. We have 
known of only one man who dressed always as a woman, 
did woman's work such as plaiting baskets, and lived and 
slept among, but not with, the women. This man was a 
mwaami ("a prophet "). 

Paederastiam, quae non ita rara est, abominantur, 
praecipue quia metuunt ne pathicus concipiat. Poena 
amatori trium vel quattuor bourn statuta est. 

Bubonum, id est membrorum ex corio vel ligno factorum, 
usum inter mulieres fieri audivimus. 

Masturbari satis commune. 


Bestialia quaedam non ignota. 

Cunnum lingere est maximum flagitium ; non minus 
decern duodecimve boves a noxiis exiguntur. Hoc crimine 
olim in indicium citabat mulier virum a quo divortium 
fecerat, adfirmans ilium hoc scelere se infecundam fecisse, 
et, quod omnium pessimum fuisset , /acinus Mud sibi dormienti 

Fellatricem in servitutem adserere fas est. 

Note. — Captain Dale, writing from Rhodesia in November 1917, tells me 
that the Government is endeavouring to stop some of the evil customs we 
have described. No marriage with girls under puberty is to be permitted, 
though betrothal is allowed. All marriages have now to be reported to 
the District Official and the girl is to declare her willingness. Something 
is also being done against the Lubambo custom. 

To correct an impression that might be conveyed by this chapter, I 
add a note written by Captain Dale : '* There are so many unhappy unions, 
and so many instances of infidelity come under the official's notice, that 
he is apt to conclude they are all of a like character. I believe this to 
be a mistake ; there are many instances of sincere affection and many 
happy unions of long standing ; a number of instances, too, where, when 
death has severed the tie, the survivor has proved inconsolable and 
sought relief and oblivion in suicide." With this I agree. — E. W. S. 






i. The Theory 

We now enter upon a part of our subject the interest and 
importance of which are only equalled by its difficulty. 
Behind all the actions and customs of the people lies their 
conception of the unseen. A casual observation of the 
Ba-ila might lead one to the conclusion that- they are a 
materialistic people, but in fact they are very largely 
concerned with what is invisible and mysterious. Indeed 
we may say that they are more concerned with the invisible 
than with the visible. To understand their life we must 
strive to understand the things which lie behind. To 
attain this understanding is very difficult, largely because 
of the haziness in their own minds. For any one to expect 
reasoned precise statements from them is to be disappointed. 
They are content with resting in the beliefs inculcated in 
childhood without exercising their minds as to their logicality. 
It may be there are ideas current among them that have 
been derived from different sources. As we have seen, the 
Ba-ila are very largely a mixed people ; and we can easily 
imagine women introduced from other tribes teaching their 
children the ideas they have brought with them from their 
native places. In this way, probably, different beliefs have 
been thrown into the cauldron and the result is a hotch- 
potch. These ideas all, to change the figure, get into 
circulation and the people accept them without question 
as to their origin and without comparison. Hence one 
must be prepared to find incongruous elements in their 



Professor W. James in his Varieties of Religious 
Experience says : " The religious phenomenon studied as 
an inner fact and apart from ecclesiastical and theological 
complications has shown itself to consist everywhere, and 
at all its stages, in the consciousness which individuals 
have of an intercourse between themselves and higher 
powers with which they feel themselves to be related." 

That the Ba-ila have such a consciousness of higher 
powers cannot be questioned by any one with even a 
superficial knowledge of them. They not only believe in 
their existence but are quite sure that they have intercourse 
with them. That is to say, they are religious. 

But in explicating their ideas on these subjects we have 
to begin on a lower level than this. Besides these higher 
powers — -the Mizhimo and Leza — the Ba-ila, as we have 
already repeatedly seen in previous chapters, have a 
consciousness of hidden mysterious forces that we should 
call impersonal. Whether or not there has been a historical 
development of belief, there is certainly what to our minds 
is a logical development in their ideas, a development from 
the impersonal to the personal, from charm to prayer, 
from musamo to mizhimo, from mizhimo to Leza. In other 
words, we can distinguish traces of development from 
dynamism to something approaching monotheism. 

In the earlier chapters of this book we have used the 
words magic, magical as convenient expressions for the 
mysterious elements in life ; but we prefer not to use the 
words in this connection. And that for two reasons. They 
are ambiguous in meaning, and they appear to convey the 
sense of something inferior, illicit, bad. Nor for similar 
reasons do we use that other term so commonly employed 
in descriptions of African races : Fetishism. We prefer 
the word Dynamism, because the beliefs and practices we 
wish to include under it have not necessarily any evil 
intention, and because it expresses simply what we believe 
to be the nature of their belief and practice — the belief in, 
and the practices associated with the belief in hidden, 
mysterious, super-sensible, pervading energy, powers, 
potencies, forces. We may call them what we please ; 
there is no need to be more definite than the Ba-ila are 

?.4f- - 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 81 

themselves ; the more vague the name we give to the 
dunamis the nearer we shall come to the Ba-ila conception. 
We may call it X, or use the word Od : the name does not 
matter, as long as we recognise the existence and nature 
of the belief itself. 

In previous chapters we have recognised a certain 
dualism in the practices of the Ba-ila ; such as that 
expressed in their terms Tonda and Buditazhi. In regard 
to homicide, for example, we found that in some cases the 
offender is punished by the community, and in others is 
left to the vengeance of mysterious powers. There is, on 
the one hand, the action of persons, living or dead ; on 
the other hand there is the X vaguely connoted by such 
terms as tonda, malweza, chikuto, lusasa, musamo, matushi. 
This dualism is a marked feature of their life and runs 
through all their conceptions of the unseen ; on the one 
hand there are the mizhimo and Leza : both to be regarded, 
as we shall see, as personal ; on the other hand, the Od, 
which isjmpersonal, though often it is vaguely personal. 

We use the terms with hesitancy. It is very 
difficult indeed to decide as to what extent the Ba-ila 
recognise personality in the world. In their marvellous 
grammatical classification of words, the Ba-ila put in a 
class by themselves, substantives with the singular prefix 
mu-, and the plural prefix ba- ; to this class belong personal 
names : muntu, bantu, are definitely " person, persons." 
Another class has the prefixes chi-, shi-, and comprises things. 
Chintu is a thing. The root ntu would seem to indicate 
existence : the prefix mu-, personality ; and chi-, " thing- 
ship." So far all is clear. But there is another class, with 
the prefixes mu-, mi-, to which belong the names of trees 
and, among others, the words musamo, misamo (" medi- 
cines"), muzhimo , mizhimo , the divinities, which seem to 
belong to an intermediate concept : neither personal nor 
impersonal. They have the personal singular prefix, mu-, 
but mi- in the plural. Another feature of the classification 
is that the names of animals, though not in many cases 
carrying the mu- prefix, belong to the mu- ba- class, forming 
the plural with ba-. This might seem to predicate personality 
in the animals. But what their idea of personality is we 

vol. ii JX-uQxS 


do not know. Some of the animals, as we shall see presently, 
are in many respects classed as persons, others are not. We 
can only leave the question in this vague state : there are 
persons — reckoning personality as we reckon it ; there are 
impersonal things ; and there are things on the hazy 
borderland between personality and impersonality. 

Are we to reckon this Dynamism as religion or not ? If 
the concept of a personal God is essential to religion, then it 
is not. Whether the X can be described as a " higher power ' 
is difficult to say : it is higher in the sense of being super- 
sensible, mightier than men ; and higher in that it is treated 
with reverence and submission ; but we could not, with any 
regard for the accepted meaning of the word, call it a god. 
If intense faith in the efficacy of the ritual and in the powers 
recognised in the ritual ; and if a strong, and, on the whole, 
a wholesome influence on conduct, are constituent elements 
of religion, then Dynamism is certainly a religion. Perhaps 
it may best be regarded as a proleptic stage in the growth 
of religious ideas. 

If we are to bring Dynamism into relation to the 
Ancestor-worship and Leza-cult to be described in subsequent 
chapters, we must revert to the already mentioned dualism. 
On the one hand, on a horizontal line, we have the X ; on a 
parallel line, the belief in personality, which, prolonged into 
the unseen world, brings us to the ghosts. The X powers 
are extended into the cosmical sphere ; and somehow in a 
paradoxical way the two lines there meet : the X powers 
come to partake of the personal characteristics of the 
ghost : and the result is a personal, or quasi-personal, 
Being uniting the potency of the X with the personality of 
men and ghosts. In some such diagrammatic fashion we 
may venture to describe the undoubted connection. The 
lines, however, are not to be drawn clear and distinct, 
but shaded into each other — the shading representing all 
the vague undefinable gradations between personality and 

It seems that the X pervades all things. Usually it is 
quiescent. In itself it is neither good nor bad ; it is 
amoral, neutral ; but it can be tapped by people and turned 
to use — to evil use or good according to the intention of the 




person who uses it. The banganga, basonzhi, and balozhi 
are those who have the secret of manipulation. The 
banganga can draw out the forces contained in various 
plants and other things and put them to beneficent purposes, 
as in curing the sick and making amulets and talismans ; 
or to maleficent purposes, as when they provide the warlock 
with death-dealing drugs. The basonzhi can tap the forces, 
and by their means look into the future and discover things 
unknown ; they are uniformly beneficent in intention. On I 


unknown ; tney are umiormiy Denencent m intention. (Jn 
the other hand, the balozhi draw on these mysterious 
energies to plague and destroy their fellow-men. 

The only thing in civilisation which we can compare 
with this conception is electricity. We are to imagine all 
things charged with something as mysterious and pervasive 
as electricity. Like electricity, it can be utilised for legiti- 
mate ends : but it is a perilous thing to mishandle. For 
any rash or ignorant person to come into contact with a 
live wire is, as we know, dangerous. And, we suppose, a 
person could be so charged with electricity that he would 
be a danger to any one touching him. So in the minds of 
the Ba-ila is it with this immanent energy. 

The forces are dangerous things to interfere with. 
They are therefore tonda (taboo). For an ordinary person, 
under ordinary circumstances, and without an antidote, to 
interfere with them is forbidden ; it is dangerous to him- 
self and the community. By saying certain things, doing 
certain actions, eating certain foods, he may liberate these 
energies with fatal consequences to himself and his neigh- 
bours. Persons in certain conditions, and things put to 
certain uses, come into intimate contact with these forces 
and are therefore tonda. It is as if at certain times the 
separating medium becomes attenuate, the insulating rubber, 
so to speak, gets worn off the live wire, and people come into 
close contact with the forces. 

That the neutral force may be turned to good or bad 
use explains many curious things in the practices of the 
Ba-ila. Incest is one of the things that bring men into 
violent connection with it, and is therefore taboo. The 
incestuous person is expressly called a mulozhi (" a 
warlock "), a trafficker with forbidden powers. But incest 


under certain conditions, i.e. when a man is wishful of 
special good fortune, is not only permitted but enjoined. 
So with words. Phallic songs that on ordinary occasions 
are tonda, must be used on the occasion of a funeral, during 
smelting operations, and on other occasions when the 
forces are intimately in evidence. In normal times the 
abnormal is taboo, but in abnormal times the abnormal 
things are done to restore the normal condition of affairs. 

These our generalisations are based, not upon direct 
information derived from the natives, but upon their customs. 
We need not repeat what we have already described at 
some length of their practice of medicine. It would seem 
that almost any object can be used as a musamo. True, 
there are specific drugs for specific diseases, but it seems 
that a doctor can discover in anything he chooses a remedy 
for some complaint, or a charm for some purpose. It is 
not he who imparts the potency to the object, but he dis- 
covers it to be a peculiar manifestation of the all-pervading 
force. And the drugs work not only upon diseases of the 
body, but also directly upon a man's feelings and disposition. 
It is not necessary by any means that they should be 
brought into close contact with him, by wearing or swallow- 
ing ; they can act over a distance. Moreover, they can 
separate by their mysterious action some part of his 
constitution — his " life " — from the rest, and can change him 
into another form, both before and after death. Indeed, 
they can affect ghosts ; and also the elements — changing 
the direction of rain-clouds, keeping off lightning, and 
producing rain. Many are the tales told of the way people 
have gained happiness and prosperity in life through the 
action of the misamo. Here is one example. " There was 
a very old man who was driven away by his children and 
went crawling into the forest. There some boys found him 
and began to jeer and mock the poor old fellow — all but 
one, who bade them desist, and who brought him some 
water and food. When the boys were departing the old 
man called the kind lad back and told him to sit down b}' 
his side. He began to cough, and spat the sputum into a 
small pot ; he then scraped his skin, and the scrapings he 
added to the sputum. He mixed it all up and told the boy 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 85 

to drink it. The boy was rather disgusted and couldn't 
make out what the old man was up to, but he obeyed. | 
The old man then said to him : ' That was musamo, very 
powerful in effect. By giving it to you, I am giving you 
bwami (chieftainship), and wealth and long life and good 
fortune in hunting. Nothing shall be able to hinder you.' 
And so it came to pass. The boy grew up fortunate, wealthy, 
renowned, and died at a ripe old age." There would seem to 
be no limit to the range of the possibilities of the medicines. 
We are reminded of Virgil's lines : 

has herbas atque haec Ponto mihi lecta venena 
ipse dedit Moeris (nascuntur plurima Ponto) 
his ego saepe lupum fieri et se condere silvis 
Moerim, saepe animas imis excire sepidcris 
aique satas alio vidi traducere messis. 

[Eclogue, viii. 95.) 

And it is not an animistic belief. These things are not 
supposed to be possessed of a " soul." When the lover, 
the trader, the warrior, the diviner addresses the musamo 
he is not as a rule conscious of any ghost or spirit in it 
(we have noted exceptions to this), he speaks to the 
medicine itself. Yet it seems there is an approxima- ^ 
tion to animistic conceptions in the importance attached 
to the name. Without t he n ame the medicine would 
not be what it is with i t. One might almost say that^ 
the name bears something of the same relation to the I 
thing as " soul ' to " body." We have even instances 
where the people have spoken of the izhina (" name ") 
entering a person and causing sickness. 

We may give here some additional information with 
regard to manifestations of this power. 

There is a bush called Kamwaya ("the scatterer"), 
which may not be used as firewood, nor its poles taken for 
building purposes. It has the quality of dispersing things : 
hence the name. If you were rash enough to burn it, your 
friendship with another person would be dispersed and you 
would fight him that day ; and if you were to build a pole 
of it into your house it would part asunder. The ancients, 
we are informed, found this out. They built a fence partly 


of Kamwaya around the village, and afterwards could not 
understand why one by one their people left them. One 
of the elders had it revealed to him that it was on account 
of the Kamwaya ; so all the poles of that tree were pulled 
up and others put in their places. After a short time 
strangers began coming to ask permission to build at the 
village, so the community was restored to its former strength. 
Then they spread the news abroad, saying, " Tadizasha, 
tadizotwa, dilamwaya munzhi" ("Don't build with it or 
warm yourselves at its heat, it will scatter the village"). 
From that day to this diatonda (" the tree is taboo "). 

But under certain circumstances the power within it 
can be made to serve a useful purpose. When there has 
been more rain than is required and the clouds are still 
gathering, if you take this bush and wave it about you 
will scatter the clouds, and rain will not fall. And you 
can make a medicine out of its roots to get rid of that horrible 
disease called kafungo. 

Another tree not to be used as firewood is the Mabanga. 
As we shall see, the corpses of certain people are burnt, and 
Mabanga is used for the purpose because it burns fiercely, 
so much so that it can destroy not only the body but the 
spirit. Because of this power in it, its use is taboo under 
ordinary circumstances. But, as we saw in Chapter IX., 
because of its power it is used in smelting iron. 

Certain animals and birds are peculiarly manifestations 
of the X; they are called mnpuka ("a monster"), or 
muntu (" a man "), or mulozhi (" a witch ") ; some are 
said to be malweza {i.e. bad omens, unlucky). 

We have already mentioned some of them. 

The Chinao cat (see Vol. I. p. 239) is particularly unlucky 
to children. It is called ushibandilwabana (" He that may 
not be named to or by children "). If a child is ill in a 
way that makes it resemble the cat [kusata kuchinkozha 
cha munyama wezo — " to be sick in the likeness of that 
animal "), its eyes starting out of its head, its fists clenched, 
its body shaking all over, then they know that the Chinao 
has affected it ; somebody has brought a skin of the cat 
into touch with the child, or named the cat in its presence, 
or the cat has passed by near the child. But a kind of 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 87 

homeopathic prophylactic can be made from the animal — 
that is, it provides its own antidote. Many children for this 
purpose have, sewn into the carrying-skin, small medicine- 
receptacles made of pieces of the Chinao pelt ; or the mother 
wears a Chinao skin. The pelt of the cat is taboo to a person 
as a garment— i.e. he may not enter a village wearing it, 
unless the children have been in this way made proof 
against the Chinao's influence. Once protected they can 
handle the skin with impunity, and any one can wear it. 

The chikambwe (blue jay) is another malweza. It is 
said to fly with a scream up into the sky and to fall lifeless. 
Should any one in charge of a child notice this bird, he 
would distract the child's attention, lest it should see it and 
be influenced by it. It can so affect a child that it too will 
die a sudden death. But the power in chikambwe can be 
made use of, not to cause but to prevent untimely death ; 
its feathers are converted into musamo for that purpose. 

Some animals and birds are termed bantu (" persons "), 
and balozhi ("warlocks"). In them there is a quasi- ru 
personal quality. They are said to have shingvhule (i.e. 
'shadow-souls") just as men have; but, unlike men, they 
are not reincarnated after death. 

We have described the ceremonies following the death 
of an elephant. When a man kills an eland he must also 
go through certain rites to avert the retaliating power in 
the animal. After killing an eland the hunter chews leaves 
of a Mukono or Munto bush, together with a piece of 
kaumbuswa (ant-heap), holding meanwhile a lump of the 
latter under his foot. Some of the chewed leaves he rubs 
on his forehead and some on the eland's forehead. Having 
done this he throws at the eland's head the piece of ant- 
heap that was under his foot. He also cuts and splits a 
stick and jumps through the cleft, as the killer of a man 
does. He then goes off to the village to get people to help 
him in carrying home the meat. On their arrival at the 
eland he sits apart while they open the carcass. He must 
not join them at first, but once it is opened he may help 
them to skin and cut up the animal. Were these rites 
omitted, the eland would trouble him — would come at night 
and horn him, or in any case cause his death. But the 


power in the eland can be put to use. Medicine put into 
its horn derives therefrom a more potent efficacy. 

The owl (shishishini) is another mulozhi. If you see it 
sitting on your roof in the dusk, and it wakes up and cries, 
^iWkj there will be a death in your home. You are then to throw 
a firebrand (chishishi) at it to drive it away and take off 
the spell. You must not throw a stone at it lest the owl 
should micturate upon it and it should dissolve — and you 
with it ! 

The plantain-eater (induba), whose red feathers, thought 
to be dyed with human blood, are worn as a trophy by 
warriors and others, is also reckoned as a muntu. As far as 
reputation goes, killing an induba is the same as killing a 
man ; even if you find it lying dead you are entitled to 
" put up " the feathers. 1 

The nakansakwe (" secretary bird ") is another mulozhi. 
Ulatonda, it is taboo, because of the mysterious force 
manifest in it. It is said that once three people were going 
along a road and saw one of these birds ahead. Being 
alarmed, they asked each other, " What bird is that ? ' 
As they were speaking the bird jumped over the path. 
One of the three went forward and passed the place where 
it had jumped ; the others returned to the village. When 
they told why they had turned back, one of the elders 
said, " You have done well. That bird is nakansakwe ; 
he is tonda when he jumps the road." The man who 
ventured ahead was never seen again ; he disappeared. 
So the news went abroad. Waluchimba nakansakwe ; 
mozo wakwe washia (" Abandon your journey because of 
nakansakwe ; his heart is black "). But he can be turned 
to use : one of his feathers is a powerful medicine to give 
good fortune. 

It is to be noticed that it is especially strange, unusual 
things, uncommon sights, new-fangled habits, strange foods 
and ways of doing things, that are regarded as manifestations 
of the hidden powers. It is here that we find the root of 
the conservatism of the Ba-ila and their hatred of new 

1 This, by the way, is an artifice practised sometimes by a murderer. 
When asked by curious people why he wears the feathers, he replies that 
he found an induba lying dead. 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 89 

ways. When, e.g., bananas were first introduced by us at 
Kasenga, we offered some of the fruit to Mungalo. He 
turned from it with expressions of great horror. " No ! 
No ! I have never seen that before ! It is tonda ! ' 

There is a certain animal named Chivubavuba, said to 
live in water. Whether fabulous or no, we cannot say ; 
we have never seen one. If it lives, it is rarely seen, and 
therefore it is among the things that are tonda. The 
Shilufukwe (the mole) is not rare, but it is rarely seen on 
the surface in the daytime ; and therefore it is tonda to 
see it out of its burrow. If you saw it, it would grin and 
one of your friends would die in consequence. To see it in 
the burrow means nothing. 

We have said enough, perhaps, to illustrate what we 
believe to be the basis of the Ba-ila conception of the world. 
If we are vague in our descriptions it is because the thing 
itself is vague. The Ba-ila have never formulated their 
belief ; it is not so clear, e.g., as their conception of the ghost. 
We have found no name for the power. The nearest, we 
think, is bwanga, which etymologically would mean " the 
tying-up, the contents," or better, " content — that which is 
contained in things." It is used commonly of the medicines. 

Vague as it is, this conception is one we can understand, 
and understand better now than we could have understood 
it twenty years ago. Is not Science to-day telling us of 
the energy stored up in the very paving-stones of our 
streets ? Have we not gained some insight into mysterious 
metapsychical forces ? Have not bacteriological researches 
opened up to us a new world of agencies ? We can under- 
stand that some experience of the powers of drugs would 
confirm, if it did not originate, their belief. And we have 
met with things only explicable on the supposition that 
they are not ignorant of psychic phenomena. This latter 
is a subject we hope will be further investigated by more 
competent observers. We can only express our conviction 
that these things are known to them. 

But there is no formulation of the belief by themselves. 
It is rather the result^of an emotional response to their 
environment — a world which, to them as to us, is a thing of 


It cannot be wondered at that they should regard any 
traffic with these hidden powers with horror, traffic, i.e., of 
an illegitimate sort. They are dreaded in any case, but 
for a person deliberately to invoke their aid for the purpose 
of harming and killing his fellows is the most monstrous of 
all crimes in their eyes. Such people are balozhi (witches, 
warlocks, sorcerers). We have now to give an account of 

2. Witchcraft 

It is impossible to say how many people used to meet 
with their deaths through suspicion of witchcraft, but the 
number was probably very great. Under European 
government it is a crime either to practise or to accuse 
of practising it. One might have thought that this action 
of the authorities would have been welcomed by the people ; 
but as a matter of fact it is a standing grievance that the 
white man no longer allows them to deal with witches as 
they used to do. A leading chief said to us one day, " You 
white men are destroying the community. The balozhi are 
exultant and doing just as they please, because they know 
we can no longer kill them as we used to do." He then 
went on to describe what had recently happened in a neigh- 
bouring community. A warlock had committed adultery 
with the chief's wife, caused her to swell up and die. Four 
wives of the chief had met with the same fate. For his 
witchcraft he had been driven out of the community, but 
if he had met with his deserts he would have been burnt. 

If it seems strange to any of our readers that what 
appears to them as a cruel superstition should be thus 
upheld by the leaders of the people, let them at least recog- 
nise the sincerity of the belief. If we believed as they do 
we should act as they do, or would like to do. Suppose a 
foreign conqueror made a law in England forbidding any 
accusation of murder as well as abolishing capital punish- 
ment, should not we regard it as the very limit of wicked- 
ness ? And witchcraft is murder to the Ba-ila. 

We will first transcribe an account dictated to us by an 
intelligent native of the doings of the balozhi. 

' A warlock, when he hears of a person's death, goes to 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 91 

' press ' the deceased. He raises him up as an evil spirit 
and takes it away to his own house. This is what he does 
with it : if he sees one whom he does not like he sends the 
evil spirit to kill that person. When it arrives where that 
person is, it appears and he sees it, and, seeing it, dies. It 
seems that he sees a person he knows to be dead, and being 
greatly startled he dies. Before dying he makes it known, 
saying, ' I have seen so-and-so who is dead.' Thereupon, 
if they don't hurry and doctor him, he dies. It means, 
that that evil spirit was sent by a sorcerer. Others are 
sent to the grain-fields, being told to go and bring ears of 
corn from so-and-so's field. So the evil spirits go and take 
the ears to that sorcerer. He works and works upon them, 
so that when the owner of the field comes to harvest he 
may gather a large quantity, but it does not increase (i.e. 
the heap in his granary), because it is made mysteriously 
to disappear. And so it is said, ' His grain is fleeting grain 
on account of the spirits, that's why it does not last, does 
not stay.' Again, if a man has a lot of grain left over from 
last year, and all the time it does not come to an end, it 
means that he has something that goes on and on, 1 that's 
why it does not end. What takes place is, that as soon as 
it begins to end the spirit adds to it, puts more there : that 
is witchcraft. 

" Again, spirits are sent to clansmen. If that warlock 
has a clansman who is very rich, he sends evil spirits that 
they may kill his children. So they are bereft of their 
children ; two die perhaps in one month. If then the 
children are all killed, he begins at the wives, saying, ' Go 
and kill such-and-such a wife.' So the spirits kill them. 
Or if he has got two they kill one of them. If he sees that 
is done, he then sends the spirits to the man's people, 
saying, ' Go and kill them.' So they kill all his slaves. 
If he be a chief, his chieftainship vanishes and he becomes 
the poor owner of a single hut, he who had built a great 
village. Or he becomes a vagabond, and it is said of him, 

1 Kafundiiluzho (a thing that does not come to an end) . The verb is 
kufunda (" to regrow ") ; Maila alafunduluka, (" the maila keeps on 
coming "). The word would be applied to the widow of Zarephath's barrel 
of meal which wasted not and to the cruse of oil which failed not. 
(1 Kings xvii. 16.) 


' That man was a chief. He was invaded by witchcraft ; 
people bewitched him.' 

" This is inzuikizhi (witch medicine). The warlock 
sends a snake, saying, ' Go and bite so-and-so.' So it does ; 
the snake goes and bites him and he dies. They doctor and 
doctor him, but he does not recover, the wound from the 
snake does not heal. Presently it kills him. They say it 
is witch medicine, which means, it was sent from the hand 
of a person, i.e. from a sorcerer. Others send lions, saying, 
' Bite so-and-so.' They go and bite him. They who 
know the medicine for lions, doctor and doctor him, but 
he gets worse and dies. It is to say, the lion is from the 
hands of a man. Others work upon the very food — food 
that is eaten, whether bread or meat or fish or boiled maize, 
or strong beer or light beer, or anything else, anything 
that is eaten. It is sent in just the same way, the warlock 
saying, ' Kill so-and-so.' So he eats that food as he always 
eats, and it introduces sorcery into his body, and he gets 
sick perhaps in the stomach, and he says, ' I am dead in 
the stomach ! I am dead in the stomach ! ' They who 
know stomach medicine doctor and doctor him, but he does 
not recover, he dies. They say it is inzuikizhi. As for 
bewitching, they bewitch in this way. He who does it 
leaves his place at night, and at the village opens the 
gateway, and though there may be dogs they do not bark. 
On arrival at the door of the person whom he is going to 
bewitch he dances in the night, he pulls out grass above 
the door, and dances with the bunches in his hands, he 
stamps about, dancing. Tired of dancing, he begins to 
measure out funeral fire-places all over the village of the 
person he is bewitching. This is what he does, saying to 
himself, ' You people light a fire here ! And you, so-and-so, 
light here ! You women light here ! And you men light 
here ! And you dancers light here ! ' So in time he com- 
pletes the circle of the village, measuring out the fire-places, 
where they are to light the fires for cooking. Presently he 
against whom he danced begins to sicken and then dies. 
They light the fires just as he had measured them out in 
the village ; yes, they do just like that. 

" The shadow that is seen, they say it is the person. 





When a person dies the corpse remains alone and the 
shadow goes to God. It is sorcerers who say they will 
take the shadow while he is still living and the body will 
remain by itself. The sorcerer takes the shadow and goes 
to work on it with medicine, and having done that, why, 
the man dies. When he dies, he does not become reborn 
on earth : so they say he is a mudimbe (' a pressed-one '), 

he has utterly perished." 

As a further illustration of the working of witchcraft, 
we give the following account, dictated by a native, of the 
doings of a woman named Namiyobo. She was trying to 
get the chieftainship at Nanzela for herself, and so, in the 
belief of the people, bewitched the chief. The point of this 
narrative is not whether the accusation was true, but the 
manner in which she and others are related to have acted. 

' Now there the old woman went to the doctors that 
they might give her medicine ; and the doctor administered 
medicine to her and said, ' He will die, he will not cultivate 
his fields this year.' Then she gave him a gun and some 
sovereigns, that doctor of hers. Then as they were leaving, 
the doctor told her, ' Take some ash from his fire-place.' 
Indeed they took some ash and put it with the medicine, 
and so doctored it. Having done this, they put a curse 
upon him, saying, ' You, oh medicine, we eat you, so that 
when we arrive at our home Namanza may die. And, see, 
he must not die here; let him die at his home.' And truly 
they took some ground from his footprints. On their arrival 
they (her attendants) passed through the village ; she 
herself passed by through the veld. Then they began to 
discuss the matter of the chieftainship. And she with 
false lips (lit. greasy lips) made it good for herself, saying, 
' I am only an old woman, I will have only the power of 
Kachinka (i.e. an inferior position) and Namanza shall have 
that of Shambala.' But Namanza refused, saying, ' No, 
not so.' 

" Before long he went to Kazangala, and on arrival 
there he sent people to bring him some milk. Then arose 
Kayoba and Mwanamboloma and took the milk. On 
arrival they found him quite well. He was very grateful, 
but they had done to him so that he should die at his home 




and not return. Thereupon he began to sicken, and before 
many days Namanza was dead. 

" Then arose a great tumult. 

" ' Who has bewitched him ? ' Some said, ' It is 
Kazhiampande ; if it is not he who bewitched him, who is 
it ? Is it not that youngster who long ago destroyed the 
chiefs ? ' They had falsely accused Pobola long ago of 
bewitching somebody. But the Creator had refused, and 
also his divinities saw to him that Pobola should not die. 
Nevertheless they disputed. 

" ' Who is it ? ' Then they said, ' It is Nakabanga, the 
son of Kanchemba.' And then again there was a great 
row. And Nakabanga resented it, saying, ' Why do you, 
Mutabakomo, and your wife falsely accuse me ? ' * Then 
they denied, saying, ' We simply put the fault on others, 
saying that perhaps it is Kazhiampande the younger, whom 
they named before.' Others said, ' No, this is not the one 
you named, it is the other.' So then Nakabanga went to 
his relations, and on arrival called them all, saying, ' Come, 
they are accusing me of witchcraft.' So all the ba-Mala 
came together, and on their arrival they asked, ' Who is it 
that accused our child ? ' Mutabakomo and his people 
said, ' We don't know, ask him himself.' Nakabanga 
answered ' Kazhiampande is the warlock, ask them ; if he is 
not afraid we will buy mwazhi.' So Mutabakomo bought 
it, and when they arrived they seized a dog, and made it 
drink, beginning thus to charge it, ' O mwazhi, if it was 
we who said that Kazhiampande was a witch, this very 
day, oh do you die ; if it was not we, you must not die.' 
Really the dog lived, and when it recovered the ba-Mala 
stood condemned. So they left it, saying, ' Let us wait for 
the chief,' i.e. the magistrate." 

We have to make a clear distinction between the 
munganga and the mulozhi : the former is the doctor, 
skilled in all kinds of misamo (" medicines ") ; the latter is 
a warlock or witch, a dealer in black magic, a trafficker in 
forbidden forces, always with a bad purpose. They come 

1 This seems obscure. There were two men of the name of Kazhi- 
ampande, one Pobola and the other Nakabanga. The latter thought he was 
being accused, whereas really it was the former. 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 95 

into association when the mulozhi secures from the munganga 
the powerful drugs with which he or she works. Further, 
a munganga may be a mulozhi, but that is not part of his 
profession. Bunganga, the quality, practices of the doctor, 
is quite distinct from bulozhi, the quality, practices of 
the witch. 

A person, moved by hatred or jealousy, may send to a 
doctor to secure witchcraft medicine. It is such powerful 
stuff that it needs very delicate handling. We know of a 
case where the medicine was so strong that it killed the 
messenger who had been sent to fetch it ! We have known 
people assembled in court during a witchcraft trial to make 
a bolt for the door when the presiding magistrate proposed 
to open up and examine the contents of the packages of 

The warlock secures his medicine, and in virtue of it can 
exercise his black art. As we have seen, there are several 
ways in which he can set to work. 

First, by " pressing " (kudimba) a man's spirit. The 
man may be alive at the time, but the witch abstracts his 
' soul," and what is left is only the empty shell, and of 
course that soon withers, and the man dies ; or, the warlock 
waits until the actual death and then impresses the disem- 
bodied spirit into his service. This spirit is called a Chizwa, 
Shikazwa, Kazwa, all forms of the same name ; or Kayobela 
(a chirping spirit) ; or Kapeo. The names vary, but the 
demon is much the same. The essential thing is that it is 
in the possession of the warlock and is subservient to his 
will. He may send it to appear to any one ; the person 
sees the spirit, and in terror falls sick and dies. Or he may 
send it to fetch the grain out of another person's field. 
The owner does not notice the theft, for to all appearance 
the grain is still there. But it is only phantasmal ; the 
essence has been abstracted. It has no body, and when 
he harvests it the store does not get any bigger. It has 
been taken away long ago by the warlock's familiar. Not 
only does his enemies' grain disappear, but his own is 
increased by this means ; he grows rich through the activities 
of his demons. 

The technical term for the effluence from the warlock is 


inzuikizhi. The root of the word is zua : kuzua, or kuzuwa, 
means to push over, thrust out ; and the word means 
literally, " that by means of which you thrust out in the 
direction of somebody." It may take several forms. It 
may be an animal or a snake, either a real one or a phantom. 
It may be the witch himself in the shape of a hyena or lion 
or snake. While the rest of the village is sound asleep the 
warlock may arise, transform himself into a hyena, and attack 
his enemy. 

Or the inzuikizhi may take another form. Our in- 
formant speaks of food which is " worked upon." The 
verb here used is kuindauka (to turn over and over, 
reshape, transform). The reference is not to the poisoning 
of food in the ordinary sense of the word, though we do 
not deny that some witches may be mere poisoners. The 
meaning is this. The warlock takes food in his hands, says 
some incantation over it, and sends forth a phantom of 
the food, which appears in the man's dish as if it were his 
own food, but which in reality is full of a deadly essence 
that, entering his body, will kill him. So when the account 
speaks of a chief being killed through his milk, it does not 
necessarily mean that it was poisoned ; but in some way 
the milk was " worked upon ' by the witch, either by 
actual contact or by actio in distans. Or the witch may 
secure something that has been more or less in contact with 
the person : some earth from his footprints, ash from his 
fire, hair or nail-parings, and by working on these he is 
able to kill the owner. 

The essential point is that the action of the warlock 
takes place telergetically, i.e. over a distance. 

Sometimes he approaches nearer his victim, but still 
remains out of actual touch with him. It is a weird picture, 
drawn by our informant, of the warlock rising at night 
and making his way unseen and unheard, so that even the 
dogs do not bark at him, to the door of his enemy's hut. 
He casts a spell upon the person. He dances with the 
grass in his hands, repeating over and over in his mind 
the words that are to send the person to his doom. He 
plans out the person's funeral. At funerals a number of 
fires are built in a village for the accommodation of the 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 97 

visitors ; and the warlock marks the places where these \ 
fires are to be lit. He could not more plainly indicate his 
evil intention. He is not only predicting, but actually 
causing, the person's death. 

The dire effects of this belief in witchcraft have often 
been pointed out, and we need not enlarge upon them. It 
is inimical to industry and economy. A person who should 
labour hard to increase his crops above those of his fellows, 
or who should be sparing and not waste his grain, would 
expose himself to a charge of witchcraft. Some spiteful 
person is sure to start whispering, " Yes, we know what 
that means ! If we had tuyobela in our huts we could have 
plenty of grain also ! ' Once set going, such suspicions 
soon spread and grow, and the person is lucky if he does 
not have to swallow the mwazhi, or have it swallowed for 
him by proxy by some unfortunate dog. So a man dare not 
be too prosperous, and the ambition, if he feels it, to rise 
above his fellows is very rudely checked. An accusation of 
witchcraft is a very useful weapon in the hands of an 
enemy. People who make themselves in any way obnoxious 
to their neighbours can very easily be despatched. Some- 
times whole families are wiped out. When a death occurs, 
as is vividly portrayed by one of our informants, there is 
suspicion and tumult, and innocent people are seized upon 
and made to pass the ordeal. It is horrible to think of the 
hundreds and thousands of people who have been hurried 
to a violent death through such means. 

How much is there in it ? Is there anything at all ? 
It may seem strange to any one who regards witchcraft 
as " the culminant example of human ignorance and folly " 
that we should ask such questions. But at the risk of 
ridic ule we will profess that we believe there is really some- 
thing behind the intense conviction of the Ba-ila. We 
readily allow there are many cases where there is not a 
shadow of any rational ground for suspicion ; perhaps 
most cases are like that. Yet if there be not a modicum 
of truth in the thing we cannot account satisfactorily to 
ourselves for the intense belief in it. 

Auto-suggestion plays a considerable part — that much 
is certain. We remember a man — a big stalwart fellow, 



who never appeared to us of a cowardly nature — being 
greatly concerned because after returning home he found 
a string of beads, with a small black mass attached, hanging 
in his hut. Nobody could tell who had put it there. It 
seemed to have sprung up out of the earth. The strange- 
ness of it preyed on the man's mind. He had of course 
from childhood been accustomed to hearing about warlocks 
and their doings, and had never for a moment doubted 
their power. Now what was to him the awful truth took 
possession of his mind : somebody had put this in his hut 
to bewitch him. He was changed at once from a bright, 
laughing, cheerful being into a miserable creature. You 
could see him getting ill, and we believe that if we had not 
taken him in hand he would have died. He was, by auto- 
suggestion, killing himself. It must be remembered that 
the minds of these people are very suggestible. Again and 
again have we noticed people giving up all hope because 
they believed they would die of the sickness that had seized 
them. They made no effort, but simply resigned themselves 
to their fate. It is in such soil that witchcraft flourishes. 

And if they can suggest themselves into death, it is 
easy to see that they can receive suggestions to the same 
effect from others. We cannot support our belief by any 
range of illustrative facts, but we are inclined to see in 
suggestion the ground for much of the witchcraft. Mr. 
F. V. Worthington, who has had a very wide experience of 
natives, related to us two instances that had come under 
his personal knowledge. In one of these an old man sitting 
in a hut was much tormented by some boys jeering at him 
outside. At last he rushed out, seized one of them, gripped 
him by the leg, and said, " You are lame ! " And the boy 
was lame. When Mr. Worthington saw him he had been 
lame ever since. This is a very good example of the power 
of suggestion. 

But even if this accounts for some of the cases of 
witchcraft it cannot account for all. As we have seen, the 
essential part of witchcraft is that it is done from a 
distance without any mediating instrument that can be 
sensed. They believe in telepathy and telesthesia and 
telergy. The first of these is perhaps accepted by most 

ch. xx DYNAMISM 99 

people in these days ; and we have only to go a step 
further and grant that one mind can affect another over a 
distance and we have all that is necessary to support belief 
in witchcraft. Or if we cannot go so far, simply by 
acknowledging as a fact that there is telepathic communion 
of mind with mind, we grant what is necessary : for 
if I can convey to another mind suggestions of sickness 
and death that is quite sufficient. The suggestion from 
without will set up auto-suggestion, and the man will 
persuade himself that he is going to die, and he will die. 

It would seem, therefore, that our modern psychology 
is bringing us back to where the Ba-ila stand in this 
respect— an illustration of the dictum : " The intuitions 
of the savage are the reasoned convictions of modern 
science." The difference is that the Ba-ila would not 
recognise the occult power as latent in the mind ; they 
would say it is derived from the musamo, the expression 
and vehicle of the all-pervading force. 



In trying to discover what the Ba-ila believe about the 
psychical structure of man it will be best to take a 
somewhat roundabout course and lead up to the conclusion 
through a study of the funerary and other practices. 

i. Death and Funerary Customs 

These people, like all others, have meditated about 
death, and like so many others have come to the conclusion 
that death is not in the original constitution of things. 
Unlike other peoples, they do not say that every death is 
unnatural and caused by witchcraft, for, as we have seen, 
they ascribe sickness and death to other and some natural 
causes. But they look back to the beginning of things and 
speak of a time when death was not. Sir James Frazer says 
there are four types of myth explaining the origin of death. 1 
The first of these, the type of the Two Messengers, is common 
to the Ba-ila with many other Bantu tribes. Their story is 
as follows : 

God (Leza) sent Chameleon, saying : " Go and tell men 
that they shall die and pass away for ever." He started 
on his journey but travelled very slowly, and rested often 
on the way. Then God saw that he delayed and sent Hare, 
saying : " Tell them that they shall die and return." On 
his arrival Hare announced to the people : " You shall die 
and return." But Chameleon contradicted him, saying : 
" No, that is not what God sent us to say. He sent us, 

1 The Belief in Immortality (London, 1913), vol. i. p. 60. 



saying : ' They shall die and pass away for ever.' But 
Hare would not have it so : " That is not the message. 
He said : ' They shall return.' " Thereupon Hare returned 
to God in anger and said : ■' Yon person whom you sent, he 
has told them : ' You shall pass away for ever.' " And 
God answered : " All right, let it be as he has told them." 

We have heard another version of this myth : God 
sent Hare and sending him said : "Go and take a message 
of death to men. You go also, Chameleon, and take a 
message of life." The Hare arrived first and announced : 
" Men shall die and pass away for ever." After he had 
delivered this message Chameleon arrived. Said he : ' Men 
shall die and shall return." But it was too late. 

In the first version Hare brings a promise of life ; 
Chameleon of death ; in the second Hare arrives first with 
a message of death and Chameleon follows, too late, with a 
promise of life. 

Notwithstanding the contradiction, the meaning is 
plain : death was not in the original constitution of things, 
but came afterwards. 

This myth is common to the Bantu tribes, but the 
Ba-ila have another, to the same effect, which seems to be 
peculiar to them. 

In the beginning, it is said, a man descended from 
above accompanied by his mother, his wife, his mother-in- 
law, cattle, goats, and dogs. The women herded the cattle 
but used to quarrel about it. One would say : ' It's your 
turn to-day," and another would reply : ' No, it's yours." 
Consequently the cattle frequently got lost. One evening 
the cattle had not returned and it was too late to find 
them. They went next morning into the forest to look 
for them, and found that they had turned into buffaloes. 
That was the first misfortune. After a time, another 
misfortune arrived : the mother of the man's wife died. 
Then the woman said to her husband : ' Let us go and 
bring back my mother, she must not be allowed to leave 
us like this." The man answered : " Oh, it's all right, she 
will turn up of her own accord." After a time the man's 
dog died, and he said to his wife : ' Let us go and bring 
back my dog." But the woman refused, saying : ' You 


want to go and fetch your dog, but my mother went away 
and has not returned and you wouldn't go and fetch her." 
Then the man's mother died. And he said to his wife, 
" Let us go and fetch my mother." But the woman refused, 
saying: " No, when my mother died you wouldn't go after 
her, and now I refuse to go after yours." And that is why 
that ever since people die and do not come back ; it was 
because of the doings of those first people who lived. 

We have heard another version of this myth among the 
Bambala. The place of the man is taken by Leza (God), 
of whom it is said that he had a wife, mother, a mother-in- 
law, and five children, three sons and two daughters. His 
mother died, but when he told his wife that she must return 
to life, she said: " No, let her die, she has eaten all my 
beans in the field." Leza agreed to this. After five months, 
Leza's mother-in-law died, and his wife said : ' Let her 
return ! " But he said : " She return ! And my mother 
already rotten ! " The wife said : " Do you refuse, husband ? " 
He replied : " Yes, I do refuse, for when my mother died 
you refused." So the woman said: "Let her die, then. 
This is lufu lukando, the great death." And that is how 
death began ; it was owing to the butavhu (" greed ") of 
Leza's wife. And Leza told those whom he had sent down 
to earth : "I also shall die. And when my heir begins to 
weep, I shall descend to you and burn houses. 1 And I 
give you medicine which you must quickly give to the 
people who are burnt in the houses. Because here above 
my relation is dead, I shall kill you on earth." So he sent 
down diseases, and also medicines. Said he : "I give you 
both : when a person is sick doctor him. If I will that he 
live, he will live ; if I will that he die, he will die." And 
having given them death, he also gave them musamo wa 
luzhalo (" birth medicine ") so that the race should not die 
out. So it is that when a person with no children weeps 
and says: " If only I had children to leave behind me!' 
they say : " Leza it is that refuses that you should bear 

1 The reference of course is to rain and lightning. The idea appears 
to be that at the end of a rainy season Leza dies, and next season his heir 
takes his place and weeps for him. 


With reference to these statements about men passing 
away and not returning, we must explain that they do not 
mean that at death a person is utterly extinct. It is the 
resurrection of the body that is denied. The person himself 
lives on, as we shall see. 

While any notion of a general bodily resurrection appears 
very ridiculous to them, we have had vague tales told us of 
people who have actually returned in the flesh. They do 
so in virtue of some very rare and enormously powerful 
medicine called musamo wa Iwende. Having taken it, a 
man warns his people not to weep after his death. They 
erect a platform in the veld and place the body upon it 
without ceremony. Three days afterwards the man is 
supposed to get up and set out for the east. As he comes 
to each kraal, the people, believing him to be alive, give 
him food. Afterwards when he has resumed his journey 
they hear that he was dead. He travels east until he 
comes to a land called Chundu, where he marries and settles 
down again, but if one from his former home comes and 
sees him alive he immediately dies in earnest. One of our 
most intelligent informants told us that he had seen one 
of these men. Another said that in his village there was 
once a mulozhi who on two occasions was killed out- 
right, but not buried, and in virtue of drugs came to life 
and lived in the veld, where he was seen by people going 
to water. 

Another idea to be mentioned is that a man does not 
die except at the return of the hour in which he was born. 
As they express it : " Muntu tafwi ansha chishika chindi 
nch'akazhalwa " (" A person does not die except when the 
hour arrives of his birth "). 

If a Mwila falls sick away from home, his chief desire 
is to return home to his village. His idea is that should 
the disease prove fatal he must be buried among his own 
people, be properly mourned for by them, and his ghost 
join the ghosts of his fathers. If at all possible he will 
struggle home ; but unless he is at the point of death his 
companions will not carry him, as it is reckoned very 
unlucky ever to carry a living person in an improvised 
stretcher. We have known instances of men being carried 


home to die but only because recovery was known to be 

Often when camping near a village at night we have 
been awakened by a loud, shrill, agonising cry ; it is the 
sound raised by the watcher at a deathbed and soon arouses 
the village. Messengers are sent out to inform friends and 
preparations are soon made for the funeral, which takes 
place a few hours later. 

What takes place may be seen from the following notes 
written by one of us after watching the burial of a friend 
who had died elsewhere and was brought home to be buried : 

" Went down to the village at 9.30 a.m. and presently 
saw the procession coming up from the river ; the corpse 
was carried suspended in a skin from a pole. They put it 
in the shade and opened the skin so that the corpse lay 
on it upon the ground. They then sat up the corpse and 
tucked in the knees, with the hands folded over the chest. 
Two men held it in that position and arranged the impande 
on the head. They then laid the corpse down to take its 
measurement. Then Shikatakala (a chief) went with some 
men towards the centre of the cattle kraal and pointed out 
where they were to dig. Impossible to watch the scene 
unmoved. An old one-eyed woman, the deceased's wife, 
walked about with a spear (its point stuck into a mealie 
cob) in one hand and a calabash churn and a fly-whisk in 
the other. She kept approaching the corpse, crying : 
' Ndezila ike!' ('I come alone!'). Other women were 
running about calling, but I could not distinguish what 
they said. Meanwhile the corpse was being prepared, 
anointed with butter, decorated with strings of large white 
beads around the neck and waist. The piece of cloth I 
gave as my chidizho was put round the neck and over the 
chest. A second impande was put on the head. The head 
was shaved. Mungalo told me that if a man's head were 
not shaved his fellow-ghosts would not receive him. 
Finally the corpse was put into the pre-natal position and 
wrapped in a skin. But just before this there was a touching 
scene. People made way for the wife and children. The 
wife lay down and embraced the corpse, calling out some- 
thing I could not catch. The children followed ; first 


three stalwart sons and then several girls, all crouching at 
the side, with tears streaming down their faces and crying : 
'Tata! Tata!' ('Father! Father!'). The grave was 
now ready, in depth about five feet six inches. One digger 
was standing in the grave and when the corpse was brought 
to the graveside there was some confusion ; several men 
were loudly called to enter the grave but declined. At 
last one entered. The two stood side by side, received the 
corpse and gradually lowered it. The grave was oval in 
shape, lying west and east, head to the west. The corpse 
was placed on a skin, l ying on its left side, and under the 
head a carved stool. Then they brought things : some 
maize, ground-nuts, a small calabash of milk or beer (I 
couldn't see which), a lump of tobacco and a pipe ; also ^ 
a packet of beads I had given. (By the way, when I asked 
Shikatakala whether the things had come I had sent for, 
he replied : ' Ndamupa kale '• — ' I have already given them 
to him '). One by one these things were put into the grave 
and placed under a fold of the skin. All the time one son 
knelt by the graveside and called as each thing was put 
in, ' Tata, here is tobacco which we give you to smoke,' 
etc. This done, the men standing around retired and one 
old woman, kneeling by the graveside, gently swept with 
her arm a quantity of soil into the grave ; others followed, 
kneeling on three sides (we stood on the fourth). When 
they had put some in they desisted while the diggers, still 
standing in the grave, firmly pressed the soil down with 
their feet. This went on till the grave was almost full, 
the women keeping up a mournful chant all the time. 
When the grave was so full that the soil under their feet 
was level with the ground, a curious thing was done. A 
woman brought an old yoke-skey found lying in the kraal 
(dropped, I suppose, by my waggon) and presented the tip 
of it to the nose of each man in turn ; they sniffed at it 
and then left the grave. On asking the meaning of this, I 
was told that it was to enable the men to leave the grave 
well. Can't make this out. The grave now being levelled, 
some of the women ran and threw themselves headlong 
upon it (it's a wonder they don't hurt themselves), others 
sat at the foot and kept up a song : a solo with chorus. 




To my surprise it was a song praising Shikatakala and 
saying that he has as many cattle as Lewanika. Couldn't 
see why they should sing such a song at that time. Women 
then began running from the end of the kraal and throwing 
themselves on the grave. Meanwhile the men were sitting 
in the shade smoking. As I came away the men were 
about to do their part. In fact before the actual burial 
they were at it. Two would stand at one side of the kraal, 
with spears raised and quivering, shouting out their names, 
and then set off racing across the kraal at top speed. On 
reaching the other side they stood and made as if spearing 
a prostrate foe. Shikatakala told me that the ing'ombe sha 
mavhwika (' the wrapping-up cattle ') were not killed on 
this occasion as it was a poor man who hadn't an ox ; 
to-morrow they will kill and eat what is brought by 

There are some features in the funerals among the 
Nanzela people slightly different from the typical Ba-ila 
funeral described above. 

The shape of the grave is different. At Nanzela it is 
excavated on one side at the bottom and the corpse is 
placed in this cavity. When the grave is filled, before the 
diggers step off from it, water is brought and all who have 
handled the corpse wash their hands over the grave. This 
is to cleanse them from the defilement they have contracted. 
The custom of pressing the piece of stick to the lips of the 
diggers, as described above, has undoubtedly the same 
meaning. The stick is previously rubbed in the ashes of 
the fire and afterwards thrown away. They say this is 
basalale munkumu (" that they may be pure as to the 
forehead "). Should this ceremony be omitted they would 
shimbalwa (" be unfortunate "). 

The duration of a mourning (idilwe) varies in proportion 
to the importance of the deceased. A child who dies before 
its teeth are cut is buried outside the hut and no mourning 
takes place. Only its mother weeps for it. At the other 
extreme an important chief's obsequies may extend over a 

A funeral is a great occasion. We fancy sometimes that 









some men spend their lives in going to funerals. One's 
workmen seem to be always wanting to go, and are quite 
clever in tracing their relationship with the deceased in 

Three Mourners at a Funeral. 


Plwto E. II'. Smith. 

order to have a good excuse for going. The reasons for 
this practice of flocking to a funeral are many. Family 
feeling is strong, and it is considered a great fault if a man 
does not weep for a relation ; this extends not only to 




blood relations but to all members of the clan, to allied 
clansmen, and to friends. If a person absented himself he 
might very easily be charged with having bewitched the 
deceased. Without question the mourning in many instances 
is sincere ; indeed many show a lot of emotion. We recall 
what we saw at the funeral of Chongo, one of the Kasenga 
headmen. Mungaila, the chief , and a relation of the deceased, 
was coated from head to foot with white ash and wore the 
scantiest bit of cloth around his loins. With a broken 
stick in one hand and a wildebeest tail, containing musamo, 

Photo E. II'. Smith. 

Cutting up an Ox at a Funeral. 

in the other he was going about alone. As he stood, with 
his long thin shanks and wizened body, gesticulating with 
the tail and shouting, as if expostulating with death, he 
presented a most pathetic figure. Every now and then he 
would flop down and wallow in the dust, throwing ash from 
the mukwashi over himself. When after a time he came 
over to speak to us, the old man was quite exhausted. 
Three old women, the picture of grief, were sitting together, 
with their arms around each other. On the grave four of 
the deceased's wives were lying as if lifeless. A son, a lad 
of fourteen or so, was lying on an ash-heap, his body shaking 
with sobs. These were real mourners. In the case of others 





it is a very perfunctory affair. Men take their spears and 
run across the kraal a few times in a listless fashion and 
think they have done quite enough to show their respect for 
the deceased. It may be that many are attracted to the 
funeral by the meat that is provided for the mourners. It 
is almost their only chance of getting a taste of beef. 

Funerals are occasions for much feasting. Every one 
in a position to do so brings a chidizho (literally, " a thing 
to weep, with ") — an ox, a pot of beer, some grain, goats, 
or some beads or print or something else. In addition, 
cattle belonging to the deceased are killed. We have known 
as many as a hundred beasts killed in this way at a funeral. 
Every man's ambition is to set aside a number of fine large 
oxen to be killed at his funeral, and these he will not part 
with for love or money. They are named the masunto, 
and are killed on the second day of the mourning. As 
many as five are killed immediately ; they are called 
ing'ombe sha mavhwika (" the wrapping-up cattle "), because 
the skins are used to lay at the bottom of the grave and 
to wrap round the corpse. If, as in the case described 
above, a man has no cattle, his friends may contribute 
these wrappings and also cattle for the feast. The flesh 
of the ox whose skin is laid on the floor of the grave is 
not eaten by the mourners but is given to the dogs. 1 As 
already related (see Vol. I. p. 305), every one who brings a 

1 Writing to me in Nov. 191 7, Captain Dale describes the funeral of 
Kakobela, one of the most prominent of the Ba-ila chiefs. " I promised 
to send an ox, and Kakobela, before he died, said he would wait for it 
below, and ordered that no one was to kill until it came or he would be 
displeased ; only his own oxen might be killed first. The first day ten 
were killed, four being left to the dogs, next day ten, and the next ten ; 
then all the people from the districts began to kill. The fifth day his 
own people began to kill — those on the left side of the village ; the next 
day all from the other side, and then his people from outlying kraals. 
The corpse was put on three dry skins, and wrapped in a blanket. Then 
shells (impande) were put all over him— on the head, under the armpits, 
and on the back, then beads ; bracelets for which there was no room on 
him were put in a basket, together with tobacco (for he would be in great 
trouble without it), pipes, mealies for seed, also Kaffer corn, millet, mabele, 
ground-nuts. He was then covered with four blankets given by his children 
and fresh ones for him were put in a box. Fat was put all over him and 
his pipe put into his mouth. Then finally the people addressed him : 
' Lubeta Iwako luambe, utalutola lubeta anshi, pe, kuyaya chishi chako ' 
(' Speak out your complaints now (if you have them), do not take them 
with you below to destroy your community '). As there was no answer 
he was taken to be satisfied, and the funeral proceeded."— E. W .S. 


chidizho has the right to receive an equivalent or more from 
the deceased's estate. 

A word as to the killing of these animals. It is done in 
a cruel manner, for the beasts are not slain outright, but 
speared in an unvital spot and allowed to bleed to death. 
We have, on some occasions, been allowed to put an end to 
their sufferings with a rifle bullet. They are mostly torn to 
pieces in a few minutes without being flayed. 

The mourners at a funeral seem to have three objects : 
to make themselves look as unhappy as possible, to make 
as much noise as they can, and to eat and drink to the 
utmost. The men smear themselves with clay and ashes, 
the women also plaster themselves over and neglect their 
appearance entirely. We have never noticed any self- 
mutilation at these ceremonies, but whether it be the natural 
consequence of grief or some vague idea of pleasing the 
spirit of the deceased, certainly they look most haggard 
and miserable. Yet this does not apply to all : we have 
seen many people at a funeral looking very happy. 

By way of making a noise drums are kept sounding 
day and night, and there are singing and dancing as well. 
At the funeral of old Sezongo, at Nanzela, this went on for 
a month with hardly an hour's cessation ; while one party 
feasted another would sing and drum and dance night and 

The writer of the notes above expresses his surprise at 
the nature of the funeral songs. One would expect, perhaps, 
songs reflecting on the sadness of life and death, the shortness 
of the one and the inevitableness of the other ; or at least 
praising the virtues of the deceased. But the songs we 
have heard have been either extolling the living chief or 
phallic — mostly phallic. Some of these songs we have 
recorded and give the substance of them here with a transla- 
tion ; it being understood that all songs are sung with 
almost endless variation and repetition. 

i. Kwezhiwa, musale umambako, 
Koya musolobole ! 
Mama ! Musale, 
Koya musolobole '\ 

" Come, select your paramour : go take her out. 
Dear oh dear, select her, go take her out." 










2. Ni wakudi ku mayoba 
Buka, untebe wo ! 
Buka, untebe wo ! 

" You who were at the rains get up and lie with me, get up 
and lie with me." 

3. Mu lubambo shinaile mo ; 
Mu lubambo shinaile mo ; 
Mu lubambo uiye ! 

" I have not yet been concerned in lubambo 
I have not yet been concerned in lubambo. 
Have a try at lubambo ! 


4. Ma ! Ma ! Ma ! Diakomena itoni diakwe ! 
Ndia mulolobozho 

Kudikwete kudilolobola. 

" Dear ! dear ! dear ! His great penis is a size ! It is a thing 
without an end. It must have had a long unwinding ! ' 

5. Munkundanguzu, 
Chanda ncha masanga. 

" Most energetic in copulation (remember that) the old house is 
only made of grass." 

6. Uswe kesu kabanga kadibangamene 
Umwe chenu chishinshi chidishinshibele. 

This has a double meaning. Literally : "As for us, our little 
axe is long; as for you the stump is short." The secondary 
meaning is : " As for us the penis is erect ; as for you the 
clitoris is small." 

7. Umwa mukazhima ikongo mbi mbi ! 
Ome mwangu mudi tushino tubotu. 

" In my fellow wife the clitoris is very black, 
In myself there are small and pretty labiae." 

When we have expressed our astonishment at women 
singing such songs — for it is the women that sing them — 
the elders have quoted the proverb " Ushidilwe taitwa ku 
bushu " ("A mourner is not to be passed before the face "), 
i.e. he or she has licence to do whatever he or she pleases. 
Under ordinary circumstances it would be reckoned taboo 
for women to utter such things in the presence of men ; 
but at funerals all restraints are removed. People do as 
they like. Grass may be plucked out of the thatched roofs ; 
the fields may be robbed of the growing corn ; all passions 

vol. 11 1 

ii 4 




are let loose ; and no complaint for damage, theft, or adultery 
can be made. This last item used to be the case ; nowadays 
fines are claimed. 

In old times a funeral of an important person at Nanzela 
was the scene of much violence. As old men have described 
it to us, it seems to have been like this. When a chief 
died, a great pit was dug and a mat spread at the bottom. 
Upon this were laid the bodies of several slaves, who had 
been knocked on the head for the purpose ; and upon these 
was placed the chief's corpse ; on either side bodies of his 
wives and at the head and feet bodies of his children. Over 
all these were placed other corpses and the grave was filled in. 
If any stranger happened to pass he was promptly killed 
and added to the pile. Women would voluntarily jump 
into the grave and surfer themselves to be buried alive 
with their husband. This custom, which seems never to 
have existed among the Ba-ila proper, has now happily 
died out. 

So far we have dealt with normal or natural deaths ; 
we may add a few notes on special practices on other 

Among the Bambala it is the custom not to bury a 
child who dies before cutting its teeth but to throw it out 
into the bush. 

When a woman dies in childbirth, it is customary to 
bury the child, alive or dead, clasped in its mother's arms. 
We have been instrumental in preventing this in a few 
instances ; but have reason to suppose that it is still done. 
In one case we remember it was the woman's mother who 
was most insistent upon the usual custom being carried 
out. We gave the child into her charge and showed her 
how to feed it artificially, but only succeeded in prolonging 
its life for a short time, for the old woman so neglected it 
that it soon died. 

A pregnant woman must have the child removed before 
she is buried. An example of this was reported to us by 
Rev. W. Chapman from Nambala. In Feb. 1912 there was a 
woman at Mpone's village, seven months with child. She was 
taken ill and died four days after. While she was lying ill 
nobody attended to her. The husband was away at a beer 


drinking. When she died, the child was taken away by 
the husband's mother. At first it was arranged that the 
husband himself must do it. Then the mother came forward 
and cutting into the upper part of the abdomen, while her 
son held the light, brought out the child. When it was 
taken out, she held it up, saying : " Here it is, now you must 
not say I have not taken it out." It was then taken and 
buried in another grave. No one must be near at the time. 
If this were not done, the woman would rise up and her 
ghost would kill people. The husband had to remain in 
the hut during the burial. 

If a person after death is suspected of harassing people 1 
by killing them or bringing other misfortune upon them, 
the corpse is taken up and burnt. Or in some instances, 
where through ill-treatment or sheer malice, a person has 
expressed an intention on his or her deathbed of returning 
to haunt the living, then no burial takes place ; the corpse 
is simply thrown out into the bush or burnt. 

Rev. W. Chapman writes us : "A man came to me one 
day, saying : ' Will you please come and see my wife who is 
ill and give her medicine ? ' I accompanied him to the 
village, and on entering his hut a most sickening and 
repulsive sight met my gaze. An old woman about seventy 
was lying on the ground by the side of the fire with arms, 
legs and parts of her body a mass of deep-seated fetid sores. 
Her surroundings were indescribably filthy. The miserable 
little hut was full of blinding smoke ; a pot of coarsely 
ground meal was simmering over a low fire, a putrid stench 
pervaded the whole place, and there were abundant signs 
of neglect. It was a hopeless case, indeed the wonder was 
that she was still alive. The following morning when I 
enquired of the husband how his wife was, he replied, 
' She is no better, other sores are breaking out ; she will 
most likely die to-day for the rats have begun to eat her 
already.' That day the poor soul was released from her 
sufferings. But to my surprise there was not the usual 
mourning. The reason, as I afterwards learnt, was this : 
The old woman had said just before she died : ' You people 
neglect me, you do not bring me water and food as you 
ought ; when I am dead I will come back and trouble 


you.' So a noted doctor was sent for from a neighbouring 
village and after various incantations had been gone through 
and the people protected by his various medicines from the 
power of the old woman's ghost, the corpse was taken into 
a lonely place in the veld. And there a huge pile of firewood 
was collected and set alight. The doctor then cut up the 
corpse and threw it on the fire bit by bit, going through 
numerous incantations the while. When the process of 
cremation was completed, the ashes were scattered to the 
winds so that the old woman's purpose might be completely 

In case of a person drowned, whose body is not recovered, 
or of any one who loses his life in such a way that the body 
is not available for burial, the funeral rites are gone through 
and some of the person's belongings are buried. Sometimes 
a person gets burnt in a veld fire ; if the remains are dis- 
covered they are taken to the village, unless it is too far 
and then they are buried on the spot ; but in any case the 
ceremonies take place at the village. The same is done if 
a person dies far from home, if his absence was only a 
temporary one. As for a woman who is married into another 
district, she is buried there and some of her people will 
travel to her funeral ; others remaining behind bunga 
idilwe ("hold the funeral"), but without any burial of 
things. In all these cases the ghost returns to the paternal 
home of the deceased. 

Suicides are buried in the usual way, and their ghosts 
are not feared more than others. All they think is that 
the ghost of a suicide is a shingonzunzu, discontented, 
rebellious, headstrong, and will be likely to cause whoever it 
is reincarnated in to commit suicide. In one case we knew, 
of a man who blew out his brains in the bush some distance 
from the village, the body was carried back to the village 
for burial, but all the funeral rites took place on the spot 
that was bespattered with his blood ; and the little spirit- 
temple was erected there. We were told that the ghost is 
\\ where the blood is, hence this practice. 

The funeral rites of a stranger are carried out in the 
usual way in the village where he dies. The news is sent 
back to his home and the relations have to provide a 


musambo, i.e. something to cleanse the village — kusalazha 
munzlii — from the defilement of the corpse. This generally 
takes the form of an ox, which is killed and eaten by the 
villagers. This done, the ghost returns to its home. 

So much for facts : what can we learn from them ? 

We may say here, that we have always tried to ascer- 
tain what meaning the people give to their own practices. 
Generally speaking, they can give no reason other than that 
they do as their fathers did. Sometimes we have got a 
reason, and have noticed often that their theories do not 
coincide with the theories deduced by anthropologists from 
similar or identical practices elsewhere. This is not to say 
that the theories of anthropologists are unsound ; they may 
be truer than the explanations given by the people to inquisi- 
tive enquirers. For, leaving out the fact that has always to 
be borne in mind, that people seek often deliberately to 
mislead enquirers, the original intention of a practice may 
be forgotten and a purely fanciful one put in its place. 

So with regard to the things buried with the corpse 
and the cattle slain at the funeral. These world-wide 
practices seem to point to a belief in a spirit-world where 
life is lived much as it is lived here on earth ; where men 
and women need the things they needed here, food and 
drink and tobacco, hoes and spears and cattle and slaves ; 
so that food is buried in the grave that its shadowy counter- 
part may be taken by the ghost of the deceased whither it 
goes ; and the cattle and slaves and wives and children 
are killed for the same reason, that the deceased may 
continue to derive from them the comfort and joy he 
experienced on earth. This appears to be a rational 
explanation of the customs. But if a Mwila is asked why 
they kill the cattle, he will answer that they are to feed 
and comfort the mourners. We have heard men strongly 
deny that the things buried with the corpse are taken by 
the ghost ; they say the reason for burying them is that 
they belonged to the deceased, and if they were not buried 
the ghost would be angry and would return to trouble 
them. When we asked about the custom of killing slaves, 
etc., we were told that it was, not to provide the ghost with 


a retinue, but simply to show their grief. And as for the 
wives throwing themselves into a grave, which we inter- 
preted as due to their desire not to be separated from their 
husband, had we not, they asked, heard of people in our 
country killing themselves out of sheer grief ? What about 
a certain European who had recently committed suicide, 
was not that due to some sorrow ? We should say that a 
child is buried with its mother in order that the mother 
may keep it in the spirit world, but they will not have it 
so : the child is buried simply because of the impossibility 
of rearing it artificially and because women will not, and 
may not, nurse children other than their own. 

As to the noise at funerals, and the deshabille of the 
mourners, some would say that they were due to fear of 
the ghost, and a desire to drive it away, others to the desire 
to show respect to the deceased ; but the Ba-ila give the 
meaning simply as grief. How can any one, they say, 
be happy and clothe nicely when a friend is dead ? At 
Chongo's funeral, after watching the men charging up and 
down, all dressed in war toggery, we suggested to some that 
it looked as if they were engaged in a battle with death. 
This was taken as a huge joke and was quickly passed round : 
' The missionary says you look as if you were fighting 

We notice, therefore, a tendency to give these practices 
a meaning other than a spiritistic one ; but at the same time 
there is no doubt in our minds that the Ba-ila believe im- 
plicitly in the survival of personality after death. They 
state this without reserve, and, as we shall see, seek to come 
into communion with the departed. 

Most significant of this are the last words sometimes 
addressed to a corpse: " Kochiya ! Kukashimuna kabotu 
kudi babo bakatanguna kufwa, ati, Ndabashia balalanga 
kabotu " ("A good journey ! Tell them well who died before 
you : I left them living well "). 

2. The Destination of the Departed 

We have not met with a Mwila who would dogmatise 
as to the destination of the dead. We may sum up as 




follows the answers to our inquiries : the ghost goes under- 
ground or somewhere to the east, or hovers in the vicinity 
of the grave or lives in the houses of the living ; it becomes 
an animal or lives in a tree, or rock or ant-hill ; it becomes 
an evil spirit or a divinity that is worshipped : it may for 
a time possess a person ; sooner or later, unless prevented 
by certain untoward circumstances, it is reincarnated. 

We will take up these points one by one ; and here deal 
with the first. 

Many place the location of Hades (Kubashikufwa : 
where the dead are) deep down under the ground. They 
say that there are collected the spirits of all cattle and wild 
animals as well as the ghosts of men. In that shadowland 
things go on much as they do here : the hunters still hunt, 
fishers fish, and there is marrying and giving in marriage. 
This, however, is not a conception prevalent widely among 
the Ba-ila proper, but seems to be that of the Bambala. 

Among the Ba-ila, we have often heard it said that Hades 
is somewhere in the east. Thus one old man said their 
fathers told them the basangushi ("ghosts") went Kwiwe, 
' to the east," but he did not know just where, nor whether 
their fathers had ever been there to see or how they knew. 
When a man dies they often say to him : " Utakunjila u 
manda a bantu, koya kwiwe kwa Chilenga " (" Do not enter 
into people's houses, go to the east, to the Creator "). Of 
a corpse it is said sometimes : " Utamutanzha a mwaka, no 
tnupniile ambo, utamululamikidi a mwaka, wachita bobo 
ulazhimina " (" Do not turn his head to the south, put it to 
the west : do not lay him north and south, for if you do he 
will lose himself "). 

The corpse is placed, as we have seen, west and east, 
with the head to the west ; but the head is bent down so 
that if the corpse could see it would look towards the east ; 
if at one time the custom was to bury in a sitting position, 
it would be looking towards the rising sun, i.e. in the direction 
whither the ghost is supposed to go. 

We believe that this has to do with the direction from 
which the Ba-ila immigrated into this country ; for as we 
have seen, there is a vague tradition that they came from 
the east. 






Another idea among the Ba-ila is that the ghosts of the 
dead continue to hover about the place they used to inhabit ; 
either near the grave or actually in the houses of the living. 
Certain practices appear to be founded on this belief. 

It is the general custom to plant a circle of sticks, chosen 
from trees that easily sprout, around the grave, so that in 
a few years there is a grove of trees to mark the place. 
These groves are called mabwabwa. Over the grave and 


Photo II. II'. Smith. 

The Mabwabwa around a Grave. 

within the circle of sticks, a small hut is erected, consisting 
simply of a few short uprights and a roof of grass. Some- 
times these " temples " are situated other than over the 
graves. On moving his village to a new site, a chief will 
often move the temples of his fathers and rebuild them 
near his huts in the new village. One chief we know has 
no fewer than six of these outside his principal hut. In 
this way the ghosts are brought to the new habitation of 
the living. 

It is at these temples that offerings and prayers are 
made to the ancestral spirits. This shows that the ghosts 




are supposed to be near the place where they lived their 
mundane life. 

If ever there was a people conscious of being surrounded 
by a great cloud of witnesses it is the Ba-ila. They might 
say with Milton : 

" Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth 
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep." 

In and around the village and in the huts themselves they 
are continually present. There are certain people who, 
in virtue of musamo ("medicine"), can see them; and 
occasionally a ghost appears to a person when he is awake. 
But the latter is an ill omen, and, generally speaking, though 
the ghosts are everywhere they do not appear to men. 
They are, however, visible to dogs and other animals. We 
were in the early days of our residence foolish enough to 
smile when an old man was telling us about the ghosts. 
" Ah ! " he said. " You do not believe. But will you tell 
me why your dog barks so much at night when all is quiet ? 
He sees the ghosts, to be sure." Many are the tales told of 
the ghosts. Here is one native account of their doings. 

" This is what a ghost does. He comes back to his house 
and taking hold of its door like a living man, opens it as if 
to enter. His widow, if awake, calls out : ' Who are you, 
opening the door ? ' Getting no answer, she rises from the 
bed, dresses, and goes to the door. She finds it open — the 
door removed. She says nothing but replaces the door ; 
she knows that it is the master of the house, the ghost, 
her dead husband, who opened the door. Perhaps she will 
ask her new husband : ' You, lying there, didn't you hear 
some one open the door ? ' And he may answer, ' No, no, 
I heard nothing.' Then she may tell him how she found 
the door open. When this happens, the widow and the 
eater of the dead man's name do not make the door fast : 
they simply lean it up against the doorway, so that the 
ghost may have free ingress. 

" The reason why people are forbidden to stand about 
a doorway is that ghosts are always near the doorways of 
houses, wanting to enter, and if a man stands there thej?' 
will make him fall to the ground. And if a man comes 


with a big heart (i.e. with evil intentions) into any house 
where there is a ghost, he will stumble and fall just there j J 
at the doorway. Why ? Because the ghost seeing that 
he has not come with kind intent will throw him down. 
Seeing which people say to him : ' Come graciously, not 
with a big heart, that is why you fell at the doorway.' 
That is how a ghost helps the people in his house ; and 
that is why the ghosts' people trust them. The ghosts save 
them from their enemies, those who would kill and harm 
them in any way whatever. 

" Again, when a man coming in from a journey drinks 
water he begins by pouring out a few drops ; before he 
eats, he throws a little piece of the bread on the ground, 
and after that he can eat well. If he doesn't do that, but 
simply eats at once, and a piece falls from his hand, he 
knows that the ghosts are asking for a taste. That is how 
all Ba-ila do. They pay regard to the ghosts. ; When they 
smoke, they first throw a piece of tobacco on 'the ground 
for the ghosts. Should a man eat without recognising the 
ghost, he would vomit and grow sick and people know he ate 
by himself. He lived with a ghost and forgot -to make an 

The Matongo 1 are the sites now unoccupied once 
inhabited by people. They are found all over the country, 
for within certain areas the Ba-ila move about every few 
years — because the soil is exhausted or because a new chief 
does not want to disturb the ghosts of the ancestors. Or 
it happens that a community dies out or is dispersed by 
war or plague. These Matongo are held sacred. People 
are as afraid of passing by them at night as villagers in 
England are afraid of passing the churchyard. Here live 
the ghosts of the people who once resided on the spot. 

They are not happy in their deserted position, but live 
disconsolately in the trees, cold and hungry. When one of 
the writers took up his residence at Ibamba we had an 
interesting conversation with an old chief on this topic. 
Many years before there had been a large community living 
at Ibamba but it had come to an end. Ghosts, he told us, 

1 The Zulus call the spirits of the dead Matongo. The Ila word 
muzhimo is rarely heard among them in the form Umzimo 


are always glad when there is a village near, so that they 
can come and warm themselves at the fires and have friends 
to bring them food and drink. Since the Ibamba people died 
out, the ghosts had been living in the trees, now they would 
rejoice as the place was to be occupied once more. Here, 
evidently, is the other side of the truth that the living 
reverence and worship the dead : the dead are dependent 
upon the living for their happiness. 

3. Metempsychosis 

The Ba-ila are firm believers in the doctrine of 
metempsychosis : that is, that at death a person passes 
into another living creature, man, animal, or plant. We 
deal now with the transmigration into animals. 

We will first by means of a story which gained universal 
credence throughout the country some years ago, illustrate 
their belief in metamorphosis— the change that a living 
person may undergo (temporarily) into the form of an 

A man in the Bunkoya country was in time of famine 
searching for roots. He sat down after a while to rest and 
suddenly descried several lions dragging an eland. He 
hastily climbed a tree under which the lions finally deposited 
their spoil. Then they turned themselves into men and 
after eating lay resting, when one of them looking up 
observed the man in the tree. They thereupon begged 
him to descend, which he naturally refused to do. All 
then began pushing and swaying the tree until the man 
dropped down. They then having questioned him gave 
him a leg of eland and warning him to say nothing of what 
he had seen, sent him home. The frightened man, however, 
no sooner got a short distance away than he dropped his 
meat and fled for safety. The men promptly reassumed 
the form of lions, chased and caught him. They brought 
him back to the tree, and one of the young lions strongly 
urged that he should be put to death. The elders, probably 
in a good humour from a plentiful meal, forbade this and 
after again warning him sent him off home. This time he 
obeyed and reaching his village informed the people that 


he had found a dead eland. To his wife only he related 
what had actually happened. She naturally told others, 
with the result that when her husband went out two days 
afterwards to gather firewood he was killed and eaten by 

Many men, it is said, have the power derived from 
powerful medicine to turn themselves into a lion or hyena 
or wild dog, and to go out at night-time to hunt animals. 
It is even said that they will take people out of their huts 
into the forest and eat them. We remember a strike amongst 
some of our workmen because, as they said, a stranger 
whom we had just engaged had this unpleasant power ; 
he was a were-wolf. They refused to work with him or to 
have him on the premises. Needless to say, could they be 
sure of any man thus changing his shape the mudisangiizhi 
("the self-changer") would have short shrift. Under the 
old conditions any one suspected of such doings would have 
met with a swift fate as a mulozhi. 

Believing then in metamorphosis, it is easy for them 
to believe that the dead can become animals. Numerous 
people are said thus to change. It depends upon their 
own wishes and whether they can obtain the necessary 

Curiously enough, it is only more or less dangerous 
beasts that men choose to become : the lion, leopard, 
hyena, wild dog, elephant, the shimakoma snake, and the 
(fabulous) Itoshi monster. Sometimes a person may choose 
to become all the first four or five of these. A doctor 
provides the necessary medicine. He cuts small pieces of 
the hide of each animal chosen and puts them to soak in 
a potful of water to which he adds certain roots. The 
pot is carefully covered and put away. After a time they 
find worms in the pot and these are removed. If it is a 
quadruple operation the doctor professes to pick out the 
worms that represent the four animals and puts in the 
man's mouth two of the lion, two of the leopard, two of 
the hyena, two of the wild dog. Sometimes they are added 
to porridge, but in any case the man must swallow them 
without chewing, so that they enter his body alive. He is 
not allowed to eat hot food, nor must he get wet. If one 




should pour a little water on him he would go mad, showing 
the strength of a lion and roaring and barking like all those 
four animals, until they bring live coals, on which some 
drug is sprinkled, and make him inhale the fumes. And at 
a funeral, when he sees the blood-stained earth where cattle 
have been killed, the frenzy may return. He rushes to the 
grave, and if not speedily prevented will dig down to get at 
the corpse. When he comes to die, he roars like a lion, 
cries like a leopard, howls like a hyena, barks like a wild 
dog, and then expires. When he is buried, a long hollow reed 
is inserted in the ear and the other end of it left to protrude 
above the surface, the opening being carefully covered over 
with a potsherd. Along this channel emerge the worms 
from the corpse and grow into the animals named. Or, 
before the man dies he may vomit up the worms, and these, 
after his death, become the animals. 

Two points must be noticed. The person does not enter 
into an already existing animal, but becomes an animal. 
The animal is not born, it simply develops out of the worm. 
The ghost of the man has already taken its course, gone to 
the east or taken up its abode near the grave. While 
the hyena or lion is wandering about, the people will 
still come to the grave to make their offerings. And 
the fact of having become a lion is no bar against being 

It was like this with the old chief Sezongo at Nanzela. 
Some time after his death we visited his grave and found 
some men sweeping the hut in which he was buried. There 
was a tortoise in the hut and we were informed that it was 
Sezongo. They scraped some earth from the grave, dis- 
closing a potsherd, which they moved, shewing the orifice 
of a reed. It was along this the tortoise had come, so they 
said, but they meant that worms had come along the reed 
and changed into the tortoise. We heard subsequently 
that two lion cubs had appeared in the hut and it was an 
accepted fact that Sezongo had become two lions. A year 
or so later a number of lions, ten or a dozen, came one night 
and made the earth shake with their roaring. The people 
were much impressed. They said the lions had come from 
afar to salute the two who were Sezongo. 




Some time afterwards, Sezongo's son had a son born to 
him, and it was proved to be the old chief who had returned 
to earth. 

The question occurs to a European — it would not occur 
to a native — where is Sezongo ? At the grave where to- 
day he is " worshipped," in the tortoise, in the lions, or in 
the boy running about the village ? There seems to be 
either a curious confusion of thought or a conception of 
the " soul " as bipartite or tripartite. 


The Grave of Sezongo II. at Nanzela. 

Leaving that for discussion later, another question arises : 
What is the relation between the people and the lion who 
was once their chief, and in particular what is the relation 
between the lion who is Sezongo and the boy in the kraal 
who is also Sezongo ? 

Some people would answer that the lion was the boy's 
external or " bush " soul, and the relation between the two 
was so close and intimate that the well-being of the one 
depended upon that of the other. But the Ba-ila have no 
such belief. As we shall see presently, the boy has a guardian 


which seems at first almost like a fourth Sezongo, but which 
certainly is not the lions. 

To the community that lion is more or less sacrosanct. 
They will not kill it if they can avoid doing so, and further, 
they will seek to prevent a European from killing it. Should, 
however, it take to man-eating they will give their scruples 
to the wind ; be he ten times their chief, they are not going 
to let him devour them ! 

We were once asking a man about his totem and he said 
he was of the Banashumbwa or lion clan. Asked if he would- 
eat lion flesh, he said he would though the elders would 
not ; there was but one lion that he would not eat. It 
seems that a man named Nachibanga of the lion clan 
had turned into a lion and none of the clan, not even the 
young men, would eat it if they got the chance. Nor 
would they attack it, nor would it attack them. If they 
were to meet, so this man told us, the lion would simply 
look at them and seeing that they were his clansmen would 
wag its tail and trot off. Sometimes a lion, that is one of 
these persons in lion-form, will chase one of his old friends, 
but he is only having a game with him. If instead of 
running, the man stops and addresses the " lion " by name 
{i.e. the name of the deceased), "he" turns away. If a 
man meets a wild-dog and recognises in it an old chum, he 
says : "Go and get me some meat, there's a good fellow ! ' 
It goes off, finds some game, chases one in the direction of 
the man's village, then kills and leaves it. The vultures 
soon congregate, and so the man finds the meat his friend 
has got for him. 

Sometimes going through the forest, people may disturb 
a lion at its meal and perhaps the lion will leave its kill for 
them. In such a case the party will recognise the lion as 
one of their friends and will loudly thank it for remembering 
them and killing them such a fine animal. 

The imagination of the Ba-ila has peopled the rivers and 
hills and pools and forests of their country with a great 
many monsters, which, without more proof of their existence 
than we have at present, we can only consider to be fabulous. 

Chief among these is the nix, the great water monster, 
named Itoshi by the Nanzela people and called by the 


Ba-ila simply mupuka, or muzoka (" reptile," " great snake "). 
All rivers and lakes in Africa are probably thought to 
be inhabited by similar monsters. In the Victoria Nyanza 
there is Lukwata. 1 The Batonga speak of the Maloa in the 
Zambesi and the Barotsi of the Lengongole. Mr. Worth- 
ington tells us that Lewanika informed him he once 
saw the latter when he was a young man. It was walking 
along the bank of the river ; it had a body like a hippopo- 
tamus in size and a tail like an iguana, which swung from 
side to side as it walked. From Stow's Natives of South 
Africa (pp. 13 1-2) we learn that the Bushmen painted 
animals that are not seen in these degenerate days. One 
of these described by an old Bushman woman was 'Kow- 
kign 'koo-ron ("Master of the water"), of enormous size, 
far larger and more formidable than the hippopotamus. 

There was talk some years ago of an expedition to 
Central Africa to search for a dinosaurus whose existence 
was reported by the natives, described as having the 
head of a crocodile, with rhinoceros horns, a python's 
neck, the body of a hippo, and a crocodile's tail, all of 
great size. 

It is to this class of creature that Itoshi belongs. It 
has been described to us as big as a very large Ihunga 
thorn-tree, with the body of a crocodile, the head of a 
man, and the fins of a fish, and upwards of fifty feet in 
length. It is generally invisible to all but those who have 
the proper medicine ; should it appear to others it means 
death. It seizes people and takes them into its burrow 
under the river-bed. When this happens, a person duly 
protected by medicine goes along the bank and sits there 
praying for the captive's release, and maybe succeeds. 
Numerous adventures are related by people of their narrow 
escapes from these monsters. 

What concerns us here is the fact that many people, 
especially chiefs, enter the water after death and become 
these monsters. Along a short stretch of the Kafue at 
Kasenga, no fewer than ten chiefs have been named as 

1 H. H. Johnston, Uganda, vol. i. pp. 79-80. The author thinks the 
lukwata may be a small cetacean or a large form of manatee or a gigantic 

VOL. II . K 


living in the river, and our informant added that there were 
many more whose names he did not know. Nor is it only 
in the Kafue that they are found ; its tributaries abound 
in them. At Nanzela, Namongwe, who was the chief some 
generations ago, and Shantalo, one of his successors, are 
both now in the river in the form of matoshi. 

Here is a description, given to us by a doctor, of the way 
a man is treated in order to become an Itoshi : 

" You go and dig up musamo, bring the root, scrape off 
the bark, and spread it out to dry. When it is dry you 
grind it into a powder. Then you bring a scale of the 
Itoshi, the head of a python, the head of a Mulala (dragon), 
heads of other snakes, and a powdered reed, and mix them 
all up together. Of these you make a little bread. You 
break off a bit, put it on the ground, pick it up with your 
mouth and swallow it. When your health begins to fail, 
you will be very quick in dying unless they go to the river, 
bring some wet mud, and smear it on your heart. Then 
they must bring you a little bit of python skin and after 
soaking it in water put it in your hands. They also put 
palm-string in your hands, because being long it is like a 
snake. When you die, from your decaying body there will 
come out an Itoshi and a python ; indeed many snakes. 
When grown the Itoshi goes into the river and the snakes 
go into the veld." 

At the funeral of Chongo, mentioned by us already, we 
learnt from Mungaila that, being of the Bakubi clan and 
having " eaten ' the necessary medicine, Chongo was to 
become an Itoshi. In two days' time they expected him to 
emerge through the reed in the grave and take up his quarters 
in the hut where he used to live. There the people would 
feed him on lizards and fish until he was full grown, when his 
clansmen would accompany him to the river. He added 
that the place in the Kafue destined to be his home was at 
Munga-wa-nkanga. We saw Mungaila again a few days 
later and were told that Chongo was then in the hut. We 
wanted very much to go in and watch him enjoying his 
lizards and fish, but were told it was impossible just then. 
The next time we were at the village Mungaila said they 
had already been in procession to Munga-wa-nkanga and 




put Chongo into the river. So we had missed the chance 
of seeing him. 

Besides these in the rivers, there are said to be various 
bapuka inhabiting ant-hills, rocks, and trees, who once were 
men. These places are regarded with great awe by the 
people ; they are tonda (" taboo ") : no firewood may be 
gathered there nor earth taken for building purposes. 

There is a grove of trees in the Mala chishi, for example, 
said to be inhabited by a monster called Shichonka. A 
very long time ago it was a man. It is regarded as the 
guardian of the Nyungwe clan. If enemies come, it makes 
them weak at the knees. 

At Chitumbi there are several of these sacred places. 
The ancient chief of the place, Shikadio, lives in the form 
of a mupuka beneath a great ant-heap ; others say he turned 
into the ant-heap itself. When the Mission was founded 
there, an old chief came from a distance to warn us that 
this ant-heap must not be touched. Close by is another 
great heap called Kafumpa, inhabited by another ancient. 
We were warned that if we dug at these spots we should 

Besides creatures such as these, there are various sprites 
living in pools and trees and forests which are difficult to 
classify. According to some people they once were men, 
but others deny it. They may be nature spirits, or they 
may be transformed men : it is impossible to say. These 
are the names of some of them : Luwe, Kaluwetoba, Chi- 
binda, Mwabi. Of these Luwe is a one-legged goblin that 
rides about the forest mounted on an eland. He prevents 
people from killing game but is himself a great hunter. 
They say the antelopes are his cattle. Some people say it 
is possible to get medicine from Luwe for hunting. 

On the top of Nambala mountain there is said to be a 
very deep pool of water in which one of these beings lives. 

There is Chobochobo. A man told us once that he had 
not seen it but had heard of it from his father. It lives in 
a certain pool in the forest. He told us of a man who long 
ago dived into this pool and was given very powerful medi- 
cine for hunting elephant and buffalo. It gives others good 
luck. It is a benevolent fairy. 




4. Various Kinds of Ghosts 

We have spoken of various kinds of ghosts ; it will be 
well at this stage to attempt some kind of classification of 

The general name for them is basangushi (" the changed 
people"). The word is derived from kusanguka ("to be meta- 
morphosed "). They are regarded generally as beneficent or 
neutral, but may be induced by neglect to make people 
sick. They enter certain people and speak through them 
to men ; or they appear in dreams. 

The mizhimo (sing, muzhimo) are basangushi in their 
capacity as divinities, " worshipped " by the people. 

Some people at or before death are, as we have seen, 
" pressed " and their ghosts taken as slaves by the witches. 
These ghosts are variously named : mazwa, tuzwa, bashi- 
kazwa (sing, chizwa, kazwa, shikazwa) — all forms of the 
same word. 

There is some idea that these are not always in the charge 
of witches ; perhaps they escape or survive them ; anyhow 
they act as free agents. They cause disease, sometimes, by 
entering into a person. They waylay people and strike 
them dead. They act, sometimes, in sheer devilry, it 
seems, knocking burdens off people's heads, breaking hoes, 
unhandling axes, upsetting pots of beer, and so on. 

Another kind of ghost, closely allied to the mazwa, is 
the tuyobela (sing, kayobela). They are also the ghosts of 
men and women who have been " pressed " by witches and 
are now in their service. They have two characteristics 
peculiar to themselves : first, they chirp and twitter like 
birds — hence the name (kuyobela, " to twitter "), and second, 
they are dwarfish. We might call them elves. Some people 
have seen them. Mungalo told us that he had : and he 
was amazed to find what funny things they were. " What 
are all these children ? " was his first thought. On looking 
again he saw that, although they were very short, only 
about eighteen inches high, they had the bodies of full- 
grown men, only they were turned round the other way, so 
that the bellies and faces were at the back ; their hair was 
all standing upright. They live in and around their master's 


hut, and his wife must cook plenty of food for them, or 
they would beat her. They are sent out to steal, to make 
people sick and to kill. We knew of one boy who was said 
to have been bitten by them ; he fainted and the people 
had to doctor him. They sometimes enter into people and 
kosaula mala (" cut up the intestines "). 

Another species of evil ghosts is the tunchinya (sing. 
kanchinya) The mutalu is the vengeful, destructive demon 
of an aggrieved person. The malendela are said to be 
the ghosts of particularly brave men. Another species of 
ghost, not regarded as malevolent, is the bashituta, the 
characteristic of which is their silence (cf . the Zulu, isituta) . 

Here is a typical ghost story. There was once a witch 
who, beginning with those of her relations, had " pressed ' 
many ghosts. She was quite used to doing that. This is 
what befell her. One day she found a ghost up in a 
namuzungula tree, eating the flowers (they are called 
chishonsho-momba). She called the ghost, saying, " Come, 
let me carry you on my back." The ghost left off eating 
the flowers, came dbwn from the tree, and got on to the 
woman's back. She went off home, and on arrival there 
said to the ghost, " Get down off my back." But the 
ghost refused, saying, " No, I won't. You yourself called 
me there where I was eating chishonsho-momba and bade 
me get on your back." 

Hearing this, the witch fetched some porridge and 
invited the ghost to get off her back and eat. But the 
ghost refused. She found some honey and miseza and 
other delicacies and offered them to the ghost, but it refused 
to get off her back. She then said, " Come off and I will 
give you whatever you like." But the ghost refused, saying, 
" No, I won't. You asked me — there where I was eating 
chishonsho-momba — to get on your back and here I stay." 
So the woman was in a bad way. She could not eat, nor 
lie down, nor sit : she could only stand there with the 
ghost on her back. Six days she neither sat, nor ate, nor 
lay down. Then she began to totter at the knees and get 
dizziness in the eyes. Then she lost the power of speech. 
And on the ninth day the witch died and the ghost left 
her and went its way. 


5. Dreams 

According to the Ba-ila, the ghosts often make their 
appearance to the living in sleep. To them the dream world 
is as real as the waking world. When a man sees in his 
sleep the phantom of a person he knows or used to know, 
he has no doubt that the person, or the person's ghost, has 
actually visited him. These appearances may be beneficent 
or maleficent in intention. Missionaries find that very 
often a dream is the turning-point of a man's life ; many 
a convert, now doing useful service in the Mission, traces 
back his conversion to a dream. One such bright young 
man gave this as his experience. In sleep he stood on a 
high mountain and saw the villages and people below. 
Coming down he found a crowd collected at a river. There 
was a missionary there, who lifted up his hand, with some- 
thing in it, and immediately water flowed from it. The 
people fell to the ground amazed, thinking the end of the 
world had come. He (the dreamer) stood with folded 
hands praying. Suddenly the scene changed. Now he 
was in the river fishing and heard a voice saying, " Follow 
me and I will make you fishers of men." Then he woke 
up. We have been asked sometimes to interpret dreams, 
and can bear witness to the extraordinary impression often 
made by them on the minds of the people. But not all 
dreams are caused by the ghosts. Some arise they know 
not how and need interpretation. Like some civilised 
people the Ba-ila interpret them often by contraries. 

The following translation of notes dictated to us will 
illustrate this : 

It may be that when a person is lying asleep a ghost 
comes to him and says : "Go and pluck such and such 
leaves and use them as medicine for such and such a 
disease." He gets up and in the morning he goes just where 
the ghost told him, he goes and plucks that medicine and 
uses it just as he was ordered. To others the ghost comes 
in sleep and on arrival says : " To-morrow go to such and 
such a place and you will find such and such a thing." So 
in the morning he goes and finds it. To another, who has 
a case in court, a ghost comes in sleep and says : "As for 


this affair, you must speak in such and such a manner." 
He does just so, he speaks and all believe what they are 
told, and say: "He does not speak of himself, it comes 
from dreaming." That is how they are convinced at the 

Or a hunter when he is lying asleep, a ghost comes and 
tells him : "In the morning take your gun and go to hunt 
at such and such a place." So next morning he goes and 
finds game ; just where the ghost told him. The thing he 
went for, he goes and kills just in the way he was told. 

It may be that a man in sleep dreams, perhaps that 
his father or mother or kinsman is dead ; that means, it 
is not that one but another who is dead. It may be he 
dreams his father is being carried or that he is nicely clothed, 
or that he is fat— that means he is dead. He knows that 
he is dead. If it be that he dreams his father is bathing 
at the river, or that he is very white and thin, it means 
that he is alive. If he dreams when asleep that a dog bites 
him, it means that he must not go about that day, or he 
will be bitten by a lion. Or if he dreams that his father is 
bitten by a dog, it means it is another not his father who is 
bitten by a lion. 

If he dreams of marrying his relation, or embracing her, 
it means meat ; he must go and hunt. If in sleeping he 
dreams of pieces of tobacco, it means meat— the livers of 
animals. He who dreams of weeping says : ' There is a 
person dead, there is mourning." 

If there be a sick person and there come two ghosts 
to fetch him, and if they fight, it means they will kill him ; 
he knows that he will die. If they simply come and tell 
him about medicine, and say, " Do so and so," why, he 
goes and does so and recovers. On the other hand, if the 
sick man tells his friends, " I dreamed of ghosts who were 
fighting about me," at once they go to a diviner and the 
diviner divines, and having consulted the oracle he tells 
them : " There were two ghosts fighting about him, one 
is a deliverer, the other is the one who wants to kill. Now 
go and make an offering to the deliverer, that he may go 
on delivering. And the one who did not deliver, to him 
also make an offering at the cross roads, at the foot of a 


tree, that he may pass away." At once they go and make 
offerings just in that way. They say : "You must never 
return, pass away for ever." And they motion him off with 

The following, from another source, gives some more of 
these dream omens : 

" Again if you. dream of fish it is malweza. That dream 
tells that next day a person will die. Truly he will 
die. If next morning you tell people, " I dreamt of fish, 
let us go to-day and kill fish in the water," the elders will 
interpret, saying, " A person is going to die." Afterwards 
a person who was sick will be wept for. If he dreams of flying 
through the air, going flying over the trees, and next 
morning tells them, " I dreamt of flying," they will tell 
him, " You will live very well. It is life. That is a great 
dream." If a person dreams of red beads it means meat, 
he will kill an animal. Next morning he goes hunting in the 
forest and kills an animal. 

" Again if a person dreams of falling into a game pit, 
next morning he tells people, " I dreamt of a game pit and 
fell into it," and they answer, " You will die." Truly he 
gets sick and dies." 

6. Spirit Possession 

A ghost may, according to the belief of the Ba-ila, 
enter into a living person, temporarily, intermittently, 
or permanently. The reincarnation of spirits falls in a 
different category, for, as we shall see, it is not a case of a 
spirit merely possessing any one but of its becoming actually 
re-embodied in a new physical organism. 

i. Temporary, transient, possession is conceived to take 
place in the case of a person who commits murder. The 
uncomfortable feelings that seize such a person, which we 
should call remorse and attribute to conscience, they attri- 
bute to the ghost of the murdered man. It is then said : 
" Chia chamukwata" ("The chia seizes, possesses, him"). 
The ghost is supposed to take up its lodging in the region 
of the epigastrium and can be expelled by the taking of an 
emetic or by cupping. The physical basis for such a belief 


is, of course, that the solar plexus becomes disturbed by 
excitement of the higher centres. 

There is another idea that seems more like obsession 
than possession. A murderer or other evil-doer is said to 
have Chanzu or Lwanzu, that is, the ghost of the murdered 
man, or some other spirit, haunts him, or is in him — the 
idea is very vague. A man we knew of went to stay at a 
village and fell sick. The diviner declared that he was a 
murderer and had Lwanzu. He was therefore driven away. 
If he had been allowed to remain many others would have 
died. At Munkwasa's village, at Nambala, there were two 
men who had Lwanzu. One was a boastful person 
{wadikankaika) so they beat him, and he repented and got 
well. The other, who was an adulterer, was sold into slavery. 

These conceptions remind us of the Erinnyes. 

2. Temporary possession is also the cause assigned to 
many cases of illness. As we saw before, delirium is put 
down to the basangushi. We were called once to see a man 
who was said to be possessed. We found him lying in his 
hut wrapped in a blanket. He was conscious and could 
answer feebly our questions. He was in a state of prostra- 
tion ; his pulse weak, his temperature below normal. He 
had pains in the frontal region of the head and in the nape 
of the neck. Two days before he had come from across the 
Kafue at midday : and it was an extremely hot day. That 
evening he complained of being sick and fell into convulsions. 
They thought it was a ghost, and as is the custom, asked 
him who he was. The answer was, " I am Shacheza " — a 
brother who had died recently. He recovered in a few days. 
We diagnosed this case as heat-stroke. 

3. There are people who are intermittently possessed. 
They might be called demoniacs. A description of such a 
case has been furnished us by Mr. L. C. Heath, the A.N.C. 
at Chinenga, who had a good opportunity of watching it 
and recording his impressions at once. He writes : 

' Last night I was called to see a woman who was 
dancing busala. I found the wife of Chungwe face down 
on the ground and covered with dust. The limbs were 
rigid, the eyelids quivering, and only the whites of the eyes 
visible. The feet moved spasmodically and the head wagged 



from side to side. This morning on inquiry I heard that 
she was still in a fit and leave was asked to play drums 
for her, a certain cure, it was said ; after dancing to the 
drums she would sleep and recover. The woman was still 
on the bed apparently unconscious when they commenced 
to bang these drums immediately outside the hut. With 
me in the hut there was a second woman who was said to 
be similarly affected at times. As soon as the noise began 
the woman on the bed began to twitch and jump about, 
and would have fallen from the bed had I not directed the 
other women to help her to the floor. She then grovelled 
on the floor with her head in the dust, but presently began 
to crawl on all fours to the door, still keeping her forehead 
on the ground. The other woman gave a native rattle into 
her hands which she grasped and shook violently and did 
not at any time release her hold of it. I was surprised to 
see her take it, as she appeared to be otherwise unconscious 
and her eyes were still only showing their whites. The 
drumming continued and the woman kept on throwing 
herself about and kicking and rising to her knees, but no 
further. She made noises at times with her mouth and the 
drums were suppressed in order to accompany her ' song.' 

" I became aware that the dinning sound of the drums 
produces a perceptible feeling of vibration in the chest 
which may be the cause of the excitement they produce. 

" While the above was in progress the other woman 
mentioned suddenly developed the complaint in a most 
alarming manner. Her body moved like a whiplash with a 
big knot at the end, her head, which seemed in danger of 
being flicked off. She also had a rattle, and dropping it 
during her contortions made several ineffectual efforts to 
pick it up again, but was prevented apparently by the 
action of her body. She had also a battle-axe, and I was 
glad to see a man remove the sharp edge therefrom by 
grinding it on the ground. Woman number one, then, was 
more or less on the ground and kicking, and number two 
in a state horrible to witness, when a third woman came 
and made obeisance to the possessed. This was because 
she felt the spirits calling her to dance but she was unwilling 
to do so. 


" The cure seemed to be out of order somehow and the 
complaint too catching to be safe. So I had the drums 
stopped and the women taken wriggling to their beds, and 
after bathing their heads with cold water they are now 
quiet and apparently asleep. 

" (Next day.) There is more to chronicle on those 
cases, though I had thought the incident closed. 

" Woman No. 2 recovered yesterday afternoon and is 
well again. She still has pain but in her neck only, where 
the spirits congregated. (I wonder it is not dislocated.) , 

" Woman No. 1 had another attack last night and was 
once more grovelling in the dust. Bathing her head with 
cold water had no effect, and I was besought to have the 
drums beaten for her again and refused. 

" This morning she was much better again and able to 
talk. She had pains in her neck of course. She was not 
quite well, however, and I found they had given her a rattle 
soon after I had been to see her and done everything in 
their power to encourage her malady. They have now 
taken her to their village. 

" The following points may be noted : 

" (a) The drum is played on these occasions in a peculiar 
way described as kunzuma, kunzuma, kunzuma, kunzuma, 
and the vibration is felt by all the natives in the manner I 
mentioned as having been apparent to myself. Playing the 
drum, on other occasions, as at dances, does not have this 
effect, and I have not myself noticed it before. 

" (b) On hearing a drum so beaten any busala dancer 
within earshot, it may be miles away, they say, must needs 
hurry with great speed to the spot and commence the 
contortions described. In corroboration of this it may be 
noted that the sick woman left her bed at once to go to the 
drums, that the woman No. 2 came and danced to the 
drums, and that woman No. 3 was affected and would 
probably have started had I not stopped them. 

" (c) Had the drums been beaten for long enough the sick 
woman would have risen to her feet, spoken the name of the 
spirit troubling her and then recovered, or she might have 
gone on in this manner for several days and the drumming 
should be carried on at intervals until she recovered. 


" (d) The afflicted will not eat, and can only drink 
water with a little meal stirred into it. Children, even 
small babies, are affected in this manner, and are to be seen 
wagging their heads while on their mothers' backs." 

4. The kind of possession we have just described may 
pass into another, not different in nature but in degree. 
The persons may go on to deliver messages from the unseen 
world and so be named bashinshimi or baami. Kushinshima 
is to prophesy, the word being applied primarily to the low 
muttering tone in which the person speaks. 1 The name 
basala applied to them indicates the people of the Busala 
country, and is said to be given to them because the first 
prophets came from that country. Most of them would be 
called " mediums." The entering or using of such a person 
by a ghost is described by the Ba-ila as kukwata (" holding ' 
or " seizing "). 

A few notes (translated) written by one of our informants 
will serve as an introduction to them. 

" These are the affairs of a prophet. When a ghost enters 
his chest he will prophesy. It will be that that ghost 
causes him to prophesy. He enters his chest and then he 
prophesies : ' Hi ! Hi ! ' The people answer him : ' Tell 
who you are ! ' He answers, ' I am So-and-so.' They 
say, ' We are humble. Tell the news that you have got 
so that we may hear.' 

" Then that prophet tells all the news, saying, ' I am So- 
and-so, I have come to tell you the news. There is here at 
the village a warlock who bewitches. Look out for him 
and seize him, or here in the community you will all die of 
disease or something.' 

" Or he tells them if there is going to be a famine here, 
or much grain this year, or whether there will be drought 
and the rivers will not be full of water ; or whether the 
rivers will be full, or whether this year it is to be abundance 
and much grain. 

" Or the prophet will prophesy after a man's death. If 
he has been bewitched he will enter into a person and cause 
him to prophesy, saying, ' I have come, why did I die ? 

1 The word seems to be equivalent to the Arabic gllS, to utter a low 
voice, whence ^.-J a prophet ; cf. Hebrew una 


Why was I simply killed when I had no fault ? ' All the 
people hear the news and say, ' So-and-so is possessed by 
a ghost and he prophesies of So-and-so, he is asking about 
his death. Says he, Why was I killed seeing I have no 
fault ? ' Then his relations discuss those affairs of the 
prophet. Again they will ask the prophet, ' Who is the 
warlock ? ' He will tell them, saying, ' It is So-and-so. 
He is the warlock who killed So-and-so.' Then the men 
will kill the accused or they will drive him out of the 
community — out he goes. 

" The ghosts tell many things when they enter the chests 
of people. One spirit when he seizes a person and prophesies, 
will speak and say ' There will be a ravening here by 
a lion.' Another will prophesy : ' So-and-so is pregnant, 
I shall come to be born by her.' Another ghost seizes a 
person and speaks to the people of the community : ' At 
such and such a community they are plotting to kill you.' 
Another ghost seizes and causes a person to prophesy, saying, 
' So-and-so I shall kill if he does not brew beer and make 
me an offering.' Or he says, ' He who ate my name does 
not look after my children well : I shall kill him, or I shall 
kill all the children and he will be left alone to his sorrow.' 
He will say, ' Let him go out of the community, let him 
build elsewhere if he does not make me an offering. Let 
him brew beer.' That is how the ghosts speak in the chests 
of people. That is how they cause them to prophesy and 
tell all the news." 

These prophets play a very important part in the life 
of the Ba-ila. As the mouthpieces of the divinities they 
are the legislators of the community and, generally speaking, 
they receive a great deal of credit. Sometimes the message 
they deliver is harmless enough, sometimes it is distinctly 
good, but sometimes it is noxious. The word of the prophet 
is sufficient to condemn to death for witchcraft a perfectly 
innocent man or woman. And such is the extraordinary 
credulity of the people that often they will destroy their 
grain or their cattle at the bidding of a prophet. 

We must distinguish two methods in which the message 
is supposed to be conveyed to them. The Ila account 
quoted above speaks only of the first, and most common 


method : the message comes from the ghost " in the chest " 
of the prophet. This is possession proper : a disembodied 
spirit enters into the sensitive medium and uses his brain 
and organs of speech. The communicator takes more or less 
permanent possession of him : he may continue for a long 
time to speak his messages, and the medium may even 
call himself by the name of the spirit and be so named by 
the people. Or the ghost may only occasionally use the 
medium ; or again a medium may only once or twice be 
so used. There are some mediums who are regularly 
possessed by their own particular controls ; so that when- 
ever a muzhimo communicates with his people it is through 
this one individual. 

The other method is different : it is that of ecstasy. 
The spirit of the prophet makes an excursion into other 
realms and comes back to tell what he has seen and heard. 

There are some prophets who enjoy a very wide reputa- 
tion, and their names have been handed down for generations. 
The Bambala speak of no less than five famous prophets of 
the past, of whom Mukubwe was the greatest. Another 
most famous one was Longo, the mother of the chief 
Shakumbila of the Basala. She was once captured by the 
Makololo chief, Sekeletu, and taken by him as far as Ianda 
on the way to Barotsiland. It is said that when on the 
Kafue, Sekeletu ordered her to call Chinga — the chief at 
Kaingu, thirty miles away. She went down to the river 
and shouted his name : " Chinga ! Chinga ! " and then 
came back to Sekeletu to say that Chinga had answered 
and would be in the camp next morning. Sure enough he 
was. On another occasion the Makololo set her to stamp 
grain in a mortar, and she had no sooner started the work 
than a stream of water gushed out of the mortar. She 
performed such marvels as these, until the chief grew 
afraid of her and sent her back to her home. 

We will give some account of the prophets we have 
knowledge of. 

In December 1911 the chief Sachele, who had died about 
six months before, began to speak through a woman : he 
told the people that he had not been allowed to go to his 
mother — the Longo spoken of above — in the spirit world 


because she was angry with him for having been buried 
with dogs in his grave instead of slaves. He told them that 
he was living in the neighbourhood of the village and going 
about hunting as he used to do in life. This prophet, like 
most others, had a message demanding something from 
the people ; in this case she gave out that all who went 
to pay respects would be given rain and those who refused 
would experience famine. 

At the same time there was a man prophesying at 
Kakoma's village, near the Nambala mission station. 
His message was that there was going to be a lot of rain 
and an abundance of fish of all kinds ; they would be found 
on the banks of the river, and some would be already cooked. 
He called the chiefs of the district to him but they refused 
to go. He named one lad as his slave to do his bidding, 
and the people insisted upon the lad doing it. As a proof 
that it was going to rain he ordered a clay pot to be put 
out, but unfortunately it was never filled and somebody 
threw it away. The old women of the village used to tell 
the children of the greatness of the prophet : last year, 
said they, he told us that we should find an eland in a 
game-pit and we found one, so you must honour him and 
listen to what he says. The missionary was not very pleased 
with him, as he told the people that praying to God was all 
nonsense and that they would get no rain at the Mission ! 

The prophets claim sometimes to be possessed by 
beings superior even to the mizhimo. It was so with a 
man who called himself Chilenga, " the Creator," and 
who appeared in 1909. He announced that he could destroy 
a grub that was spoiling the crops. In obedience to his 
commands the people brought him specimens of the grub 
and he burnt some amidst incantations. But the grubs 
did not cease their ravages. One would have thought 
they would have lost faith in him, but undaunted he 
ventured on loftier flights. He said that in a short time 
he would turn the sun black for six days, destroy the bridge 
over the Kafue, tear up the railway, and cause all the 
Europeans to leave the country. To enable all this to 
happen the people were to destroy their cattle. The 
unfortunate Batwa, to whom he told this tale first, had by 


long exertions managed to scrape together a few head of 
cattle ; believing his story they killed them ; but before 
the sun turned black the false prophet was arrested for 
sedition and put into prison by a Government not inclined 
to be sympathetic with such things. 

Another professed to be Mwana Leza (" the Child of 
God "), i.e. to be possessed by Him. He came to the people 
at Nanzela at a time when there was a very heavy rain 
(1909), and the crops were in danger of being spoilt. He 
made his appearance in one village and ordered the chief 
to build him a hut which was to have two doorways in it, 
one facing east, the other west. " When you have finished 
the hut," he said, " bring me some grain and I will pray 
to Leza so that these floods may cease." They all believed 
him and built the house and brought the grain. " But," 
said he, " this is no good ; there's too little of it, bring 
more." He went to another village and ordered the headman 
to produce grain, to another and to still another, until all 
the villages, believing his story, were doing their utmost 
to provide him with grain. It was at a season when grain 
is very scarce. They came flocking with what grain they 
could gather, but he looked at it disdainfully and said, 
' I cannot pray for you, because you give me such a little. 
If you want me to pray for you, you must give me cloth 
and shirts." Some believed and produced cloth and shirts, 
even cattle and goats. Then at last he offered his prayers, 
but the rain did not cease. He then declared that it was 
against Leza's will and that He had ordained there was 
to be a great flood of water that year. The people then 
began to get restless and to demand the return of the 
things they had given him. " Don't be in a hurry," he 
told them ; " presently I will beseech Leza very earnestly 
to hear my prayer." He put them off in this way, until 
they became convinced that he was a false prophet. We 
have never heard that they got back the things they gave 

And who, may we ask, is Mwana Leza ? 

Our first acquaintance with the name came in this way. 
We quote from the diary of one of us : 

" July 1, 1906. Visiting Mala. After service this 


morning three women came and talked with me. They 
are baami (' prophetesses '). Had not been at service, but 
had heard I had been telling people about the Son of God. 
Told me spontaneously about Mwana Leza. Came down 
long ago in the country of Lusaka ; was kind and gentle, 
went about telling people to stop fighting. After a time 
people killed him ; bamuyayil' a musune (' they killed him 
on account of an ox '). Was killed at Chongo. His spirit 
enters into many baami, who foretell events and tell people 
to stop fighting, to live in peace and cease shedding blood. 
Mungaila brought one of them here because of the fighting 
between him and Mungalo and through her they have 
peace to-day. They are light-skinned women, with a curious 
far-away look in their eyes ; hair is twisted into small knots 
with ochre and fat in the way called shimbulumbumba." 

Later in the year (1906) the people of the country were 
weeping because Mwana Leza was dead. It appeared that 
a certain man living in some district in the north was out 
hunting one day and following a wart-hog he had wounded. 
As he was going through the veld, a bright, dazzling object 
appeared before him, reaching from the earth to the sky. 
The man fell to the earth as one dead. Then he heard a 
voice saying, " Have you not heard that it is taboo to 
eat the flesh of wart-hog ? Stop following the spoor and 
tell people that if they persist in eating that flesh there 
will be trouble. And — stay ! Why is it you people on 
earth have never lamented the death of Mwana Leza who 
died so many years ago ? Bid them weep ! ' The man 
presently returned to his senses, and made his way home. 
He told the people what he had seen and heard ; they 
only laughed at him. A few days afterwards two people 
died very mysteriously in the village. That was sufficient 
to set them mourning. The deaths were accepted as a 
sign : " Leza is angry with us," said they, " come, let us 
weep." They commenced the mourning ceremonies as if 
it were for a friend. Moreover, they sent messages to the 
neighbouring villages, who sent farther on, and in a very 
short time all over the country the people were mourning 
on account of the death of the Child of God. In some places, 
perhaps most, the matter was regarded in a most serious 

vol. 11 L 


way. The people would gather outside the village and be 
solemnly warned by the elders that there must be no joking 
or playing. For upwards of a week the mourning would be 
carried out and the ashes from all the fires collected and 
I placed in a heap outside the village. Then a pole would be 
I erected by the heap, to give proof that they had carried 
out the command, so that Leza would pass them by and not 
destroy the village. 

This was one of the most remarkable occurrences we 
have experienced among the Ba-ila. It will be said at once 
that the story of Mwana Leza is nothing but a corruption 
of the teaching of the missionaries. In the district where 
we first heard of it there were then no missionaries, nor in 
the districts of Lusaka and Chongo named by the baami, 
nor in the northern district where the hunter saw his vision. 
Moreover, there is every sign that the story is much older 
than the advent of the missionaries among the Ba-ila. 
Mwana Leza is a figure introduced into the folk tales. We 
are inclined to think that the story is an offshoot of Christian 
teaching grafted upon an old idea of their own ; and that 
while it may have come to the Ba-ila through other tribes 
from the teaching of Dr. Livingstone, yet it is more probably 
an infiltration from the old Jesuit mission in Portuguese 
East or West Africa. 

That it is not recent is shown by the fact that the first 
missionaries among the Ba-ila heard about Mwana Leza. 
The Rev. A. Baldwin has given us the following quotation 
from his diary of August 26, 1895, a time of severe famine 
and rinderpest : 

" Chungwe's son was here this afternoon with a wonder- 
ful story which he had got first hand at Mosanga's to-day. 
A woman belonging there was out in the forest getting roots 
for food, and in the midst of her digging she looked up to 
find herself confronted by a big man. She had heard no 
sound of his approach and could tell neither how nor whence 
he came. Naturally she was afrighted, whereupon he told 
her not to be afraid, for he was Mwana Nyambe (Leza) who 
had come to make a revelation to her. She was to pick up 
her basket and hoe and follow him. On and on he led her far 
away until they came to a kloof overspread with beautiful 


white sand. He bid her look down into it and she saw all 
the cattle that had died of this disease — thousands of them, 
all alive and healthy. (We did not know at the time that 
the disease was rinderpest.) He asked, ' What are these ? 
She replied, ' Our cattle which have died.' : Yes/ he 
went on to say, ' You are right. I have taken all your 
cattle away from you. I am not going to allow you Mashu- 
kulumbwe to have any more.' Again he called her to 
follow as he left the kloof and on and on they went. At 
last they sighted a town, but nearing it she discovered that 
what she thought were huts were granaries, and he told her 
this was where he kept his stores. He then showed her 
grain of all kinds — mealies, kaffir corn, small corn, nuts, etc., 
in such abundance as she had never seen before. She had 
carried her few roots in her basket all this time, and now 
he told her to throw them away and filled her basket 
with corn. Then he commanded her to return home and 
tell the people all she had heard and seen, and that he 
promised they should all have an abundance of food this 
next harvest. 

" He was intensely excited as he told his story and all my 
questionings failed to change his belief in it. 

" The story puzzled me for some time, until it occurred to | 
me that it must have been a dream. The woman was 
tired and hungry and had fallen asleep in the forest and had 
dreamed the experience she related when she got home." 

Whether Mr. Baldwin's explanation is the true one or 
no, this story admirably illustrates the way in which some 
prophets receive their messages. 

In June 1913 another prophet arose in the neighbour- 
hood of Nanzela. His name was Mupumani, and he was a 
leper. According to his own account, he was not given to 
dreams, and had only the one vision. This is what he told 
us of his experience. He had gone to sleep as usual in his 
hut, when he heard a movement above, and looking up saw 
a man's leg dangling down from the roof, then a body, and 
at last the person reached the floor and stood by his side, 
but he could not see his face. The man (Mupumani said he 
must have been a musangushi , " a ghost ") lifted him upon 
his shoulders and carried him off, where to, he knows 




not, but he found himself in the presence of Namulenga 
("The Creator"), or Mulengashika ("Creator of Pesti- 
lences"). The first thing Namulenga did was to take 
Mupumani's leprous body and throw it away and then 

Photo li. II'. Smith. 


begin to mould a new body with complete fingers and 
toes. But another figure intervened and said, " No, 
do not do that. If Mupumani goes back to earth with a 
new body the people will die of amazement to see him." 
So Namulenga desisted and gave him messages to take to 
the people. One was to the effect that he would give him 


a kankudi ka buloa (" a small calabash of blood"), which 
he was to pour out and all the people would die. But 
once again the second figure, wishing to save the people, 
intervened and restrained Namulenga from doing this. 
Then Namulenga gave him a message that people when 
mourning were to cease killing cattle, throwing themselves 
violently on the ground {kudikankata) , and rushing about 
with spears (kuzemba). He had often, He said, sat by in- 
visible and watched people mourning and had split His 
sides with laughing [kuzumininina kuseka) to see their antics. 
He took men from earth, and caused men to be reborn, as 
it pleased Him : it was not for people to mourn. He also 
gave a message denouncing witchcraft. " Go down again," 
he concluded, " and give my words. Perhaps the people 
will revile you, perhaps they will listen and treat you well. 
I shall see." Mupumani found himself back in his house ; 
how he got there he does not know. He began to tell of 
his vision and soon the fame of it spread abroad, and people 
began to flock to him from all quarters. We ourselves 
were at the time travelling in the northern districts and 
met many parties, some from as far off as the Lukanga 
swamp, on their way to him. In those villages whence 
the people had already been to him, a long white pole was 
erected as a sign. Ultimately, people came from districts 
as remote as Ndola and Mwinilunga. To all of them he 
gave the message. At first he accepted nothing from them, 
except the small ring of beads for the little finger which 
seems to be given to every prophet. But what preacher is 
accepted without signs and wonders ? And the people de- 
manded " medicine " of him to make their corn grow and 
give them good luck in hunting, and Mupumani had to yield 
to their insistence. He gave them drugs, and they gave 
him money in return. Later, before the magistrate, Mu- 
pumani said the Ba-ila did not accept his messages : " They 
still kill cattle at the funerals. You know the Ba-ila never 
listen well to people who tell them to do things. At first I told 
the people about the calabash of blood and then I did not 
Perhaps I made a mistake in not always speaking about 
it ; they would have been afraid of that and listened to 
Leza's voice." 


A man from Mala, named Mungaba, while on a visit to 
Lubwe, heard of Mupumani, but scoffed and refused to go 
on to him. Shortly after his return to Mala, one of his 
people died suddenly, and while he was wondering what 
had caused the death, one of the mediums of the communal 
demigod, Shimunenga, fell into a trance. The people sat 
round, as usual, waiting for the message, and presently it 
came : "I am Shimunenga. Mungaba's child has been 
slain by Leza because he scoffed at Leza's messenger. It 
is your habit, it seems, to scoff at those who come from 
Leza. The missionary, too, you do not listen to him. Look 
out for yourselves." This message made a very deep im- 
pression upon the people, and it was further deepened by 
several strange portents that happened at the same time. 
Some of the women at Mala had been going for some time 
to collect firewood from a great tree that had been blown 
down in a gale. One morning when they went they found 
it standing upright ! Imagine the excitement. We were 
taken to see the tree and there was no question about its 
having been lying flat — there were the marks left by the 
termites on the bark and on the ground, and the sides that 
had not been in contact with the ground were charred by 
the fire that had swept over the country just before. There 
was no question about its being upright ; we saw it and 
saw too that it had not been raised by human hands. 
The explanation soon occurred to us, but did not commend 
itself to the people : they were sure occult powers had been 
at work. 

Mupumani was taken to the magistrate's camp for 
examination, it being suspected that mischief was afoot 
with all these people flocking to him. He gave his story 
in a straightforward manner which showed him sincere and 
innocent. The most extraordinary rumours were meanwhile 
floating about the country. 

It was said that while being taken to the Magistracy 
he told the people in one district that if he were put in prison 
he would stop the rain ; curiously, there ensued a drought 
in that district and the people drew their own conclusions. 
The day after his arrival, a trader's store near by was burnt 
down, and this was regarded by the people as another 
























' — ■" 




display of his supernatural power. Some said that 
Mupumani had sent an oribi with a letter to the magistrate, 
and there was a still more extraordinary story of two 
monkeys, each with two tails, that had come down with a 
letter for him from the sky. The excitement died down 
after a time, and it seems that the only result of his visions 
is the inauguration of a new kind of salutation on solemn 
occasions. Mupumani greeted people with the formula 
used in prayers to the divinities — " Ndakabomba" (" I am 
humble"), and taught them to raise their hands high 
over their heads and reply " Twakabomba " (" We are 

7. Reincarnation 

Sooner or later, almost every person now living will 
return to earth. Such is the belief of the Ba-ila. The 
exceptions seem to be two : the ghosts who have been 
pressed into the service of the sorcerers ; and the great 
mizhimo of the various communities, such as Shimunenga. 

. The Ba-ila seem to think that a certain number of spirits 
were created at the beginning and given bodies : when 
the bodies wear out or are destroyed, the ghosts live for a 
short time free and then have other bodies prepared for 
them. They seem to regard this as the best of all possible 
worlds, for the disembodied spirits clamour to be reborn. 

The process of discovering the identity of the reincarnate 
person may be described here in the (translated) words of 
one of our informants : 

" Before the mother emerges from the hut, if the child 
cries they go to divine, and a female spirit comes in the 
divining rod and says : ' Go on sacrificing, it is So-and-so 
come to be born, give him the name {lit. call upon his 
name).' They return from divining, and on their arrival 
they offer water at the door, saying, ' You, So-and-so, 
we see you. Now as you have come back to earth, do 
not come with two hearts, suck well and grow ! ' Some 
of the water remaining in the mouth they spurt over the 
child's body, and call him by that same name ; then 
the child starts up and cries. The child cries because 
fearing the water. But if he goes on crying all the time 


when he is called by that name they will go and divine a 
second time, and bring another spirit, for it seems the first 
spirit should be conquered. Then as they call that one's 
name the child leaves off crying. Calling they call aloud, 
and the first spirit is conquered. This is the birth name, 
the great one, the one of the spirit, he is called by it by all 
the people who have the right. 

" It is taboo to address an elder by his birth name. It is 
to shokolola him, and he will be angry. Because it is the 
great name, which is to be honoured. If his contemporary 
shokolola him by the birth name it is to despise him, but 
he does not get angry, he simply laughs, saying, ' It is my 
musama.' The mothers and fathers are they who shokolola 
him by his birth name, and his elder relations, his younger 
relations, no. 

" Often a spirit of a woman comes to be born in a 

" When they say, ' Do not come with two hearts,' they 
mean, ' Do not be in a hurry to die.' The spirit may choke 
himself through being angry. If he hurries to go away 
again they say he has choked himself." 

This is one method of identifying the child. Another, 
similar, consists in placing the child to the breast and 
pronouncing the names of its grandfather and other fore- 
bears. If at the mention of a name it begins to suck, they 
are satisfied as to the identity. 

There is some difference of opinion as to the precise 
time when the ancestral spirit becomes the child. Some 
hold that it is at the mentioning of the name in this ceremony 
that the child becomes So-and-so, or, rather, that So-and-so 
becomes the child. That is the reason of the cryptic remark 
quoted above : " They bring another spirit — for it seems 
the first spirit should be conquered " — i.e. driven away, as 
not being the legitimate one. But we have again and again 
heard men say : "I am my grandfather, I entered my 
mother's womb to be born." In that case, either at con- 
ception or some time later, the spirit enters the embryo. If 
there were unanimity upon this point, it would help us to 
determine their ideas of the soul. If the spirit only comes 
at the naming ceremony, then, before it, has the child no 


soul, or has it a secondary, a nutritive, sensitive soul, and 
the spirit comes as the rational soul ? What is the relation- 
ship between the ancestral spirit and the body ? Does it 
simply live in it as a guest, or does it animate the body, 
making it perform its functions ? These are questions to 
which they can supply no answer. 

It seems certain, however, that there is no relation 
between the incarnate ancestral spirit and one of the most 
important functions of the body, viz. the sexual function ; 
for a woman may return as a man, or a man as a woman. 
This seems to show that the spirit animates the higher and 
not the lower centres ; a person, i.e. the true self, the self 
continuous through all the reincarnations, may take the 
form of male or female ; it itself has no sex. 

In accordance with this belief, we find many men with 
feminine names, and females with masculine names. The 
name prefix na- is a shortened form of Nina (" his mother!/) ; 
Nachibanga means " mother of an axe." The prefix shi or 
sha or she represents the word ushe (" his father ") ; so 
that Shimunza means " father of the day." The following 
are the names of some males we know : Nakadindi ("mother 
of a pit ") ; Namamba (" mother of hoes ") ; Nabanyama 
(" mother of animals ") ; Namabuzo (" mother ol baobab 
trees "). And the following are names of females : Shimbala 
(" father of palm string ") ; Shamakowa (" father of wild 
cucumbers ") ; Shachifua (" father of a bone "). 

Furthermore, there is a double incarnation in some cases, 
for a discarnate spirit may return to earth in two bodies. 
Suppose there are two brothers who separate to live in 
different districts, and each has a child born to him about 
the same time. They go to the diviners in their respective 
districts, and each is told that it is the grandfather who has 
returned in the flesh ; the child confirming this in the way 
we have described. They are satisfied, then, that this is so. 
Up to this time no communication has taken place between 
the brothers as to the children, but now that the names 
are given each sends to the other to say, " Our father has 
returned to our home." No conviction arises in their mind 
that a mistake has been made ; they simply accept the 
situation. If a spirit so wishes, why should it not occupy 


two bodies ? It does not occur to them to question the 
possibility of one person being in two places at once. 
The Ba-ila, then, are at one with Wordsworth : 

The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, 
Hath had elsewhere its setting, 
And cometh from afar : 

But with the next lines they would not agree : 

Not in entire forgetfulness, 
And not in utter nakedness . . . 

For no man can remember, they say, what he was when he 
lived on earth before, or what he was and did in the spirit 
world. The memory — shall we put it so ? — and all intel- 
lectual activities are outside the scope of the spirit ; which 
determines who the man is, not what he is. With us per- 
sonality is somehow bound up with memory ; we are con- 
scious of our identity through all the changes the years 
bring. But to the Ba-ila, it would seem the soul — the man 
himself — is more like a tenant, a lodger, in a house where 
all the daily avocations are carried on apart ; he has no 
share in them, but is like a star and dwells apart. 

Consequently, there is no morality in their ideas of 
incarnation. They are far removed from those of the 
Brahmans and Buddhists, 1 where the conception of metem- 
psychosis is dominated by the idea of moral retribution ; 
where the successive migrations through ten thousand 
millions of lives, as ordained in the code of Manu, are steps 
through punishment to redemption. A man is blind now 
owing to his lust of the eye in a previous birth. The Karma 
(doing or action) in the one life determines the position of 
the individual in the next. Nothing of this kind is found 
in the Ba-ila ideas of reincarnation. 

1 Buddha denied the soul. With Plato he said that the desires, 
cravings of a man determined his future ; there was no passing over of 
a soul. The cravings made a new body ; how is not said. There is some- 
thing like this in Bwila. A man wishes to be a lion and he gets medicine 
and becomes so. But in regard to reincarnation, no medicine is required ; 
whether he craves it or not he returns. 


8. The Genius, or Guardian Spirit 

Here is a short account given to us of the Guardian 
Spirit. It is called musediakwe muntu, " a person's 

" When a person sneezes, he makes an offering by spitting, 
and says, ' Tsu ! My namesake, stand by me always ! ' 

" If he is minded to go hunting he gets up early ; and at 
the Lwanga makes a heap of meal — fine meal — and offers, 
saying, ' Tsu ! My namesake, let us go out together and 
hunt ; bring the animals near to me, let the sharp stick 
sleep, let all biting things sleep, let the fierce snake be far 
away. I want only meat. Give it me, hunter.' 

" When he has finished the offering, he goes out. When 
he finds animals and kills one, he cuts up the liver, and off 
the rump he cuts morsels, as well as from the heart and 
foreleg and leg, and begins to make an offering, saying, 
' Thou in the East, here is meat ! ' He throws a morsel 
from the leg, one from the rump, one from the foreleg, one 
from the liver, and one from the heart. Having done so 
he makes another offering, saying, ' Thou in the North, 
here is meat ' ; (and another) ' Thou in the West, here is 
meat ! ' (and another) ' Thou in the South, here is meat ! ' 
When he has done this, he lies on his back, does obeisance, 
and claps his hands, saying, ' To-morrow and to-morrow 
give me meat ! ' 

" Having finished, he makes an offering to his namesake 
of liver, roasted or boiled, heart and liver, and says, ' Here 
is meat, O my namesake. Pambala, pambala, a spirit does 
not refuse his own anything. To-morrow and to-morrow 
may I kill even more than this animal ! Be thou around 
me, O hunter ! ' 

" He claps his hands. And at the village when he returns, 
he does the same, he makes an offering at the Lwanga to 
his namesake. Then also he claps his hands. He will in 
this way put his trust in his namesake all his life through." 

Several points call for elucidation. And, first, as to the 
name. Musediakwe means " his namesake." One never 
hears the word musedi without the enclitic possessive, but 
we may here use it alone. As already explained, there is 


something about a man's name that must be respected. 
For any one to call a man by his birth name is a fault ; it 
is also a fault for a man to pronounce his own name, that 
is, his birth name. If another person has the same name 
as you, you may not speak to him or of him by that name, 
but must use the word musediangii (" my namesake "). 

Now, in this connection, musediangu is not used indis- 
criminately by a man, as if just any one bearing his name 
stood by him always in spirit. He is not thinking of any 
of his friends or relations on earth. The namesake upon 
whom he calls for help, and to whom he makes his offerings, 
is the one whose name was given him after birth — his grand- 
father, probably. Thus a boy is named Mungalo after con- 
sultation with the diviners, and by his solemn act of accept- 
ing the breast at the mention of the name he shows his 
acquiescence: Mungalo was his grandfather. And when 
he speaks in his prayer of his namesake he means Mungalo, 
his grandfather. 

But he was named Mungalo because he actually was and 
is Mungalo, that is, he is his grandfather reborn ! Quite 
so ! He is Mungalo, and Mungalo is his grandfather and 
Mungalo is also his guardian spirit. That is to say, a man's 
guardian spirit, his tutelary genius, is the reincarnate spirit 
within him : shall we say, is himself. The genius is not 
only within him, but, in a sense, external to himself, pro- 
tecting and guiding him. 

Now, at first sight, this appears to be an incongruous 
conception, resulting from the fusion of two disparate ideas 
derived from different sources. One might imagine that 
one set of ancestors believed in reincarnation ; that another 
set believed in a guardian spirit, a father or grandfather 
who, while not actually reincarnated, constituted himself 
the genius of his descendant. These two sets of people, we 
say, might have coalesced and one belief become super- 
imposed upon the other in the minds of the children, and 
hence to-day they say in one breath that Mungalo No. 1 is 
Mungalo No. 2, and that Mungalo No. 1 is the guardian 
spirit of Mungalo No. 2. 

That is a possible explanation ; but may there not be 
something deeper in it ? Some doctrine of the soul, implicit 


if not explicit in their beliefs, which though not explicable 
by modern Ba-ila was clearly grasped by their ancestors ? 

That the soul, or part of it, may also be a man's guardian 
spirit seems to be a belief shared by Plato. 1 ' As concerning 
the sovereign part of the soul within us," he says, " that 
which we say and say truly, dwells at the top of the body 
and raises us from earth towards our heavenly kindred, 
forasmuch as we are a heavenly and not an earthly plant — 
(fivrbv ovk eyyetov a\\' ovpdviov- — we ought to believe that 
God has given it to each of us as a daemon " 2 — a kind of 
genius or guardian angel for the direction of our lives. 

The Ba-ila would agree that we are a heavenly and not 
an earthly plant and that our kindred are in the regions 
above. They would certainly subscribe to the doctrine of 
daemon. And they would also agree that the sovereign 
part of us is the daemon guiding our lives. It seems that 
Plato and the Ba-ila philosophers are not far removed from 
each other in this matter. 

As for the doings of the guardian spirit, it is not neces- 
sary that we go into details. Briefly, whatever good fortune 
a man may have, whether it be by way of gaining wealth 
or fame, or escaping from danger, it is ascribed to the good 
offices of his namesake. The apparent contradiction that 
he also has medicines for the securing of safety and pros- 
perity is no greater than the contradiction between praying 
for rain and yet working medicines to induce it to fall. The 
two things work together. The musedi is the man's own 
personal god, devoted to his interests. Accidents, of course, 
happen ; a man may have his life endangered in a thousand 
ways. When such happens he wonders what his musedi was 
doing to allow him to get into danger like that. He makes 
an offering and reproaches his musedi, saying, " Why did 
you leave me ? I nearly died. Where were you ? See, I 
make you an offering : do not leave me again." Should 
the accident be fatal, his friends can only suppose that for 
some reason the guardian spirit was vexed and had aban- 
doned him to his fate. 

As for the way the guardian spirit conveys his admoni- 

1 Timaeus, 90 a. 
2 Jowett translates, " divinity." 


tions, he comes in dreams, or he speaks in a low voice heard 
only by the man himself within his breast. 

It only remains to be said that all people have these 
attendant spirits, from the time the birth name is conferred 
until death. 

We may compare this Ba-ila belief with the Zoroastrian 
doctrine, founded on primitive Sumerian beliefs, of the 
fravashis, and also with the idea of the genius (or of a 
woman, the Juno) or divine double of the Roman, accom- 
panying him during all his lifetime, who was also an object 
of worship. In America also a very widespread belief 
assigns to each individual an attendant guardian spirit, 
independent of, but attached to the physical self, which 
warns the self through the intuitions of impending dangers 
and the like. 

This widespread belief cannot but remind us of the 
conception of the subliminal consciousness formulated by 
modern psychologists. Here in the secondary self, that 
part of us that lies beneath the threshold of consciousness, 
we have, it seems to us, the psychological basis for the Ba-ila 
belief. That secondary self is more sensitive than the 
primary self with which we normally identify ourselves : 
it receives impressions from the world without, which our 
ordinary senses cannot perceive, just as a photographic 
plate will record things which the eye cannot see. And it 
sends up into the supraliminal consciousness messages in 
the form of monitory inhibitions and impulses. Such seems 
to be the explanation of the daemon of Socrates, the Voice, 
the sign that guided him in all the affairs of life. Numerous 
instances have been recorded since the days of Socrates, 
where a sudden presentiment of danger has saved a person 
from violent death, or where in answer to a strong over- 
mastering feeling a person has hurried off to a fateful meet- 
ing to which he had received no call in the ordinary way. 
There is no reason to suppose that such experiences are 
confined to civilised beings ; indeed we can well understand 
that they should be more common among the uncultured 
races. Granted such phenomena we can see how naturally 
they would suggest to the savage mind the presence of a 
spiritual guardian, directing his movements and shielding 


him from danger. For the voice or sensation arising from 
the subliminal region seems actually to be external to himself. 
He does not see the hidden danger, or opportunity of fortune ; 
it must therefore be some being wiser than himself, who is 
interested in his welfare and who directs him accordingly. 
We do not suggest that every time a man thinks that his 
guardian has prompted him there has actually been a 
message from his second self, for many an escape or meeting 
may be only an accident or coincidence, though interpreted 
by the savage in accordance with his dominant idea. AH 
that we ask for is that such messages have been sent up at 
some time, and have really been the means of helping ; 
such instances would be sufficient to start the idea. Once 
started it would be handed down from generation to genera- 
tion and become firmly established as a universal belief. 

Whatever may be thought of this, the close correspond- 
ence between the Ba-ila idea of the guardian spirit and 
the psychologist's theory of the subliminal consciousness 
cannot but strike our readers. Here is the secondary self, 
so mysterious and elusive, guiding the primary self by virtue 
of its hyperesthesia ; within and yet seemingly without, so 
that often its extraordinary performances suggest rather the 
action of some extraneous being ; oneself and yet not one- 
self. In this strange conception, which yet explains so 
much, the Central African savage and the European (and 
American) psychologist once again clasp hands. 

9. The Psychology of the Ba-ila 

We are now in a position to estimate the contents of 
the Ba-ila psychology. We have certain facts before us, 
how can we explain them ? 

Let us note first the important distinction to be drawn 
between what the natives say about these and what we 
say. One is apt to read into things more than the people 
do. It is not easy for us to realise that the African does 
not systematise as we do. To explicate what lies implicit 
in his ideas is legitimate enough, provided always that we 
state clearly which is our deduction and which are his ideas ; 
and that we clearly understand what his ideas really are. 


Some writers present to us a very elaborate analysis 
of the soul of the people they are describing ; and we wonder 
whether the people would recognise the description or 
whether the writers have not made out to be separate 
entities what are really only different aspects of one entity 
in the minds of the people. 

It is well known, for example, that the ancient Egyptians 
had a very complicated idea of the human ego ; we are told 
of about ten entities comprising it. Many of these bear a 
striking similarity to what we find among the Ba-ila ; indeed 
it would be easy to compile a Ba-ila psychology as compli- 
cated as the Egyptian. 

There is the Egyptian A b, translated " heart " or " in- 
side," the will or intentions. This corresponds with the 
Ila mozo, of which, as we have seen, the Ba-ila speak much. 
The Ijaibit corresponds to the chingvhule ("the shadow"). 
The Egyptian ba was " a sort of agile principle whose habitat 
is chiefly in the skull " : one writer compares it to those 
little genii or " spirits " that savage peoples locate in the 
nape of the neck ; that is to say, they (for people had 
more than one Ba) may correspond with the Ba-ila shin 
and Bashimpulukutwi, of whom we learnt in Chap. X. In 
many respects the Egyptian Ka corresponds to the Ba-ila 
musedi. It has been variously described by different writers, 
but we may be content to say that it was the man's double, 
second self. Perhaps, too, we may take the Egyptian Ran 
as like the Ba-ila izhina, the name ; for the Egyptians had 
similar ideas as to names. If the Ran was part of the 
personality, so is the izhina. The Egyptians thought that 
these elements of the personality were not enough to make 
up the living being, they constituted merely a being capable 
of life. Then came into the man's nostrils the vital breaths 
of Nature, wafted by the breeze ; this we may compare to 
the Ba-ila moza or muwo ; and as a result of its entrance 
life came ; what the Egyptians called Aonkhu and the 
Ba-ila, burnt. 

On these lines, then, we might speak of the Ba-ila Ego 
as composed of mozo, chingvhule, shiu, etc., musedi, izhina, 
and moza. But this would be an over-elaboration and 
would, we believe, misrepresent Ba-ila ideas. 



The chingvhule, e.g., cannot be taken as a separate entity. 
It is true that it is sometimes spoken of as if it were. If 
you want to take a portrait of a child, its father will object 
on the grounds that you will take away its chingvhule and 
it will die. We have seen how witches can take away a 
man's " shadow." But on the other hand, when the question 
as to the identity of the self and the shadow is pressed 
home, they will always deny it. We remember talking this 
matter over with one of our closest friends among the 
elderly Ba-ila chiefs ; he emphatically declared that the 
shadow was only a thing seen when a person stands in the 
sunshine, and had nothing to do with the man himself. 
You say, we went on, that when a man is dead he is not 
done with. ' Yes, true," said he. " He enters the womb 
and is born again." " Well, what is it that enters : the 
man's body or his chingvhule, or what ? ' 'I don't know, 
perhaps it is muwo." Muwo is the wind. Sometimes they 
talk of the moza, " breath." But we feel sure that all three 
terms are used metaphorically. They know the difference 
between a corpse and a living being ; they have watched 
the last breath and know that when it has come out a 
change takes place. And that breath is evidently akin to 
the wind. Breath — wind — shadow — these are not to be re- 
garded as three distinct entities ; rather are they words 
with which the Ba-ila seek to express the mysterious self- 
evident thing that possesses them. We should be nearer 
still to their attitude if we said that they think of a living 
being as a muntu — a person, without asking questions as to 
what constitutes his personality. There is something strange 
about him, as mysterious, intangible as the shadow, or 
wind, or breath ; but what that is they cannot say. Suffice 
it to call him a person. 

The soul as we speak of the soul, it is doubtful whether 
the Ba-ila believe in it. Certainly we have never found a 
word that would be a satisfactory translation. Muzhimo, 
musangushi : these are discarnate spirits. There is no word, 
and apparently no idea, of a " soul " as such. 

Can we formulate an explanation that will cover all they 
think and say ? Shall we say that a man is full of soul- 
stuff just as the world of Nature is pervaded by those 


mysterious forces manifest in medicines, etc. ; that this 
soul-stuff pervades his whole body but is specially active 
in some organs — in the blood, heart, and genitals ? It is 
also specially prominent in the senses of taste and hearing, 
so much so that there the soul-stuff appears to become a 
self-acting distinct individuality. This soul-stuff is ethereal, 
impersonal, animating the whole body, giving it life. The 
essence of it may, with the aid of drugs, be separated from 
the body and be hidden for safety as an " external soul " 
in other things. Into the body comes the spirit from the 
spirit-world, which gives the person his identity, his name, 
his position, all that we mean by personality. 

At death the man wasanguka, becomes metamorphosed. 
The spirit is freed from the body and enters the unknown 
spirit-world where it awaits the time of its reincarnation. 
The " soul " of the man now changes, it is no longer mere 
" stuff " but a person — a musangushi — which hovers around 
the grave, lives in trees and houses. This is the normal 
process ; but it may be disturbed by the action of the 
mysterious force in musamo (medicine), by taking which a 
man may extract an essence from his body which trans- 
forms into an animal. So that the one person now becomes 
three distinct entities. On the other hand, a magician may, 
by means of his art and medicine, destroy the spirit en- 
tirely, so that it cannot be reincarnated, and the soul-stuff 
instead of becoming a musangushi is transformed into a - 
malevolent chizwa. Between the body mouldering in the 
grave and the spirit no connection exists after death, but 
until the process of decay is complete the musangushi, as 
well as the chizwa, remains in some way attached to the 
body, so that to destroy the body is to destroy the chizwa. 



c^ p. 




The basangushi (" ghosts "), regarded as objects of adora- 
tion, are named mizhimo. Strictly speaking, not all basa- 
ngushi are mizhimo, but only those more or less helpful to 
men, not those who, for some reason, are inimical ; though 
in a loose way the word is applied to all ghosts. The root 
of mizhimo is no longer a living one in Ila, and it is im- 
possible to give a derivation of the word. That it is an 
ancient one is shown by the fact that in various forms 
(umzimu, muzimu, mudzimu, mdzimu, musimo, mushimu, 
modimo, morimo, elimu) it is the common name throughout 
the Bantu field for the divinities ; indeed we may take 
this as an indication that before the Bantu tribes emigrated 
from their original home they already had this name and 
this cult of the dead. One other significant fact may be 
mentioned : muzhimo is not a personal name, but neuter or 
collective ; the plural, as almost always in Bantu languages, 
is mizhimo, not bazhimo. It would seem as if the dead were 
/ regarded as having lost their individualities and become 
mere potentialities. But whatever may once have been, it 
isjmpossible now to deny all personality to the Ba-ila divini- 
ties. Other names of the ghosts, basangushi, bashikazwa, 
etc., are personal in form ; and there can be no question 
that such mizhimo as Shimunenga stand out clear and 
distinct in their individuality. 

For the purpose of description we may divide the 
mizhimo into three classes : personal, family, and communal 


ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 165 

1. Personal and Family Divinities 

We have already had occasion to describe the Genius, 
or Guardian Spirit ; it is what we mean here by a personal 
divinity. It is, in a sense, the man himself ; his spirit ' 
moving on a higher plane, watching over him and his in- 
terests. " Every person," said one of our informants, 
" trusts his own muzhimo : whether he is travelling or 
whether he stays at home, he does not forget his divinity." 
It would, of course, be a poor man who had only one divinity 
— the Ba-ila call such a person shikazhimo-komwi (" a single- 
divinity man ") ; every one not isolated in the world has 
his family divinities all around him. Hence when a hunter 
is successful he throws morsels of meat as offerings north, 
south, east, and west, that none of his divinities may go 
neglected. If you had only one, and that one should absent 
himself, you would be in a bad way ; but having many, if 
one should neglect you, others are sure to be there, and not 
knowing who is present it is better to cast your offerings in 
all directions and give thanks by expressing confidence in 
their continued beneficence : " To-morrow and to-morrow, 
give me meat." But, says our informant quoted above, 
" however many may be a person's divinities there is always 
one that is thought of first, whose name and help are first 
invoked, and that is the man's own personal muzhimo." 

The family divinities are the ghosts of one's grand- 
fathers, grandmothers, father and mother, uncles and aunts, 
brothers and sisters. In the unseen world they continue 
to take an interest in things mundane and, in particular, in 
the welfare of their relatives on earth. They are never far 
away. Theoretically their number is indefinite ; all the \ 
deceased members of a man's family are his mizhimo, but 
in practice it is mostly only those who have recently passed 
over that are thought of. 

There is one law of spiritual etiquette that rules in this 
region ; that is, a man has to do only with the divinities of 
his own family ; looked at from the other side the law is 
expressed in the formula : Pambala-pambala , muzhimo tokaki 
mwini ( " Pray pray, a divinity does not refuse his own "), 
with the implication that he has nothing to do with others. 


! A man and his wife, being of different families, have dif- 
ferent divinities ; and it would be an offence, coming under 
the category of buditazhi, for a man to appeal to his wife's 
divinities or she to his. More curious is the application of 
the word buditazhi to the divinities themselves — to any who 
should presume to go beyond their province and affect, for 
good or ill, members of another, family. 

This is what one of our informants says on the matter : 
" Married people have their respective divinities : the 
husband his, the wife hers — that is to say, the divinities of 
their families. When they are married their divinities re- 
main distinct, only when a child is born is there a partial 
assimilation. If the child gets sick and they go to divine, 
the diviner finds usually that the one who causes the sick- 
ness is the divinity belonging to the husband — his father's 
ghost, or his mother's, or his own genius, or his grand- 
parents' ghosts, or his sister's. Those are they who have 
the right to sicken the child. Should the diviner declare 
that it is the wife's divinities that cause the child's sickness, 
the husband's family would wax exceeding wroth and say, 
' How comes it that the woman's divinity sickens the child 
in the house ? That muditazhi of a divinity has no right 
to act thus.' The divinity of the wife may sicken her ; the 
husband's divinity may not : nor may hers sicken him. 
That is how the divinities are separate : yet they live to- 
gether in the house together with the man and his wife. 
When the husband makes an offering to his divinity he does 
it at the doorway of the house — on the right-hand side : the 
woman makes the offering to her divinity on the left side. 
That shows that the divinities of the husband are superior 
to the wife's. The same divinities of the husband's are the 

1 divinities of the children in the house ; the wife's are her 
own, and only to a certain degree of the children, in that 
they help the father's a little in shepherding and guarding 
the children. The father's divinities are superior in the 
house and over the children ; and quite distinct from the 
woman's in regard to the husband and wife : the husband's 
do not help the wife : only her family divinities help her ; 
and the wife's divinities do not help the man." 

From what we have said, it will be seen that the Ba-ila 

cii.xxn THE DIVINITIES 167 

are well provided with divinities : for a man has his own 
attendant genius, his family gods, and, moreover, superior 
to all, the great communal divinities watching over the 
interests of the commune as a whole. If we add to these 
all the various charms whose use we have already described, 
it is apparent that the Mwila strenuously guards himself 
against the ills of life. Nor is there any incongruity in his 
mind in the simultaneous resort to both divinities and 
charms. There are, he recognises, many forces, personal 
and impersonal, seeking his destruction, and the wise man 
wilI~enTIsFThe aid of all the help the universe provides. 

Their attitude towards the departed is a twofold one, 
founded on a sense of mutual need. In the close com- 
munity between the living and the dead neither can do 
without the other. The living need the help of the ghosts 
in battling with the evils of their present existence, and on 
the other hand the departed depend for much of their well- 
being upon the living. Out of this there grow apparently 
contradictory ways of regarding the ghosts. 

From one point of view, we may define their attitude by 
the word shoma (" trust "). The meaning of the word is 
quite clear. On the first occasion we heard it we were 
standing on the top rung of a rickety ladder, papering a 
room in our house, and were just reaching up to place the 
paper in position when we heard a boy below saying, "If 
I were the master, I would not shoma this ladder, he will 
fall and break his neck." The word means to put reliance 
upon, have confidence in, to trust. The ghost has some 
power that the living man has not, power largely in that it 
lives invisible (seen at any rate only on rare occasions), 
independent of the laws of space and time. Things hidden 
to the mortal eye are no secret to the ghost. And normally 
it is devoted, or one may suppose it devoted, to the interests 
of its family. The attitude of trust would seem then the 
proper one to adopt towards this unseen but powerful 

But, on the other hand, in putting off the flesh the 
ghosts have by no means divested themselves of human 
nature. The best of living men are subject to moods : 
ordinary people are jealous, touchy, fickle ; you have to be 


on your guard not to offend them, for if put out they are 
apt to be vindictive. And so it is with the ghosts ; you can 
never be quite sure of them ; any omission on your part to 
do them reverence will be visited on your head or on the 
head of some one dear to you. Then they must be placated 
by offerings. It is a good thing they are placable, for if 
they kept up resentment where would you be ? 

There is, then, both trust and fear in their attitude to- 
wards the divinities ; in a word, awe, what the Ba-ila call 
mampuba — the proper disposition, including reverence, fear, 
trust — in which to approach both chiefs of dignity and the 

But there are ghosts that are deserving of no trust 
whatever, only unmitigated dread. They are the larvae 
who have gone into the other world embittered by their 
treatment in this, and now work off their spleen upon the 
living. This is what we are told about them : " One 
divinity of a man is not good, no, he is bad. It is a person 
who was not pleased in his death because he was bewitched 
by a relation, desirous of ' eating ' his name ; so he goes 
off indignant when he dies saying, ' We will see to that 
one who killed me.' But it does not mean that he straight- 
way kills that warlock ; he begins to cut down (kutemenena) 
outsiders — any one he sees — and their relations, seeing the 
deaths, go to the diviner. The diviner declares the deaths 
to be due to this divinity, saying, ' It is So-and-so who 
killed this person ; he is fighting about his own death at 
the hands of his relative : he wants to kill him.' There- 
upon that warlock gets into trouble with those people and 
has to pay over one of his slaves as a fine. So the divinity 
goes on troubling him who caused his death. The man 
will have to be purged (pupululwa) with medicines, to 
drive away that divinity, or else he will be the death of 
many and himself will die inzanganzanga — a violent death." 

A man is pupululwa'd by being held forcibly with his 
face over a potsherd upon which are placed live coals and 
medicine. He inhales the pungent fumes. Presently he 
struggles and breaks away from his captors : they follow 
him with the potsherd until he falls down. Just then they 
throw away the sherd, and after a time he gets up and 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 169 

returns home free of the tormenting ghost. The "medi- 
cine " has somehow driven it off ; others say it goes at the 
moment the sherd is thrown away. This purging is resorted 
to in any case where a person is possessed or obsessed by a 
harmful ghost. 

Not only are the divinities offered various things, but 
they are kept in good humour by having their names given ' 
to one's spear, ox, canoe, slave, dog, or drum — anything that 
one has. Every time you have need of the thing you 
remember the divinity's name and pronounce it, and that 
is highly pleasing to him. 

There are places consecrated to the divinities, but the 
Ba-ila proper neither make images of them, nor portray 
them in any way whatever. It is only on the north-eastern 
border of Bwila and under the influence of Baluba, that one 
finds graven images. Chibaluma, chief of the Lusaka com- 
mune, who is of mixed Baluba and Ba-ila blood, took us 
into his sanctum — an ordinary hut surrounded by trees, 
entry to which is forbidden to ordinary people — in the 
centre of the village. There he keeps the most valuable 
of his movable property — drums, guns, etc. ; they are safe 
in the guardianship of the divinity, safer than if behind 
locked and bolted doors. Here also are deposited his hunt- 
ing trophies. There is also a bed upon which occasionally 
he sleeps. And in the hut there are two figures about ten 
inches high, roughly carved in wood. They are named 
mituni, bangosa, or tunkishinkishi. 1 In the heads of these 
images there are holes into which " medicine " is poured. 
The hut is sacred to Chinenga, an ancestor of Chibaluma, 
removed three generations back, who was chief of the dis- 
trict and had his village farther west. He is reincarn ate 
in Chibaluma and is his genius. It is believed by some of 
his people, and some of his sons, that Chibaluma's life is 
hid in these images ; he himself told us that they preserve 
him from witchcraft. In some way his genius is bound up 
with the images, and the " medicine " is poured in at times 
to renew their power. On occasions, such as departure for 
a trading or hunting expedition, or before going to war, 

1 This name is evidently related to nkici, the name given to the 
" fetish " among some Congo and Western tribes. 


























and when he is sick, he makes an offering before these 
images and implores the help of his divinity. 

This hut we have described was not built over a grave. 
Among the Ba-ila proper, as well as among the Balumbu 
and Bambala, a tiny temple, consisting of a small conical 
grass roof supported on sticks, is built over the grave. This 
also is a sacred spot. Within the temple one usually finds 
an earthenware pot, sunk into the ground above the grave, 
as a receptacle for beer offerings. Around this, living poles 

Photo E. IS'. Smith 


are planted which soon sprout and in course of time grow 
up into a circular grove. On these trees one notices at 
times maize cobs, heads of Kaffir corn and other offerings, 
also heads of game. Some chiefs are buried in their huts, 
which are kept in repair for some time and then replaced 
by others, smaller and flimsier. In them are kept various 
articles that belonged to the deceased. After the death of 
Sezongo II. at Nanzela we saw in the hut various drums, 
stools, and spears — among them some very handsome ele- 
phant spears. One would think they would be preserved 
inviolate, and so we were told at the time ; but some years 
later we found them all gone. They had been removed by 




relations of the deceased. When we expressed surprise at 
the impiety, we were told : " It is all right. When a rela- 
tion wanted anything, he made an offering to Sezongo, told 
him what he desired, and took it." 

Another sacred spot, which we might dignify by the 
name of the village altar, is the Iwanga. It takes different 
forms. Usually it is a long many-pronged pole planted 
near the centre of the village ; sometimes it is composed of 
four or five poles planted in a row and joined by a cross- 

Photo E. II'. Smith. 

The Great Gateway with Small Sacred Enclosure at each Side. 

beam ; sometimes a quick-growing tree, such* as an Isole, is 
planted for the purpose. In any case it has a close rela- 
tionship with the divinities, localising, as it were, their 
presence in the village. Upon it various charms are hung 
to put them in the guardianship of the divinities ; men 
hang on the prongs, or place at the foot, their hunting 
trophies as offerings ; here, too, the spears are often de- 
posited ; when meat is brought to the village it is first 
placed at the foot of the Iwanga and an offering made. 
When a man has bought a new slave, he stands him at the 
Iwanga and makes an offering to the divinities by filling 
his mouth with water and spitting it out upon the slave 




and upon the Iwanga ; he then gives the slave a new name : 
this rite is to bind the slave to his master. 

The Iwanga is the public altar. In addition each family 
has private altars in the house. We say " altars," but in 
reality they are sacred spots without anything to mark 


Photo Ji. I!'. Sunlit. 

A Neak View of the Sacred Enclosure at the Gateway. 

them off. One is at the foot of the musemu, the central 
pole of the hut ; the others are on either side of the main 
doorway — on the right the husband's, on the left the wife's. 
Another sacred spot in the village is at the great gate- 
way, through which the cattle are driven. There is often 
nothing to mark the spot, but at some villages there is a 
small enclosure formed by the fence pole' 5 on each side of 
the gateway. It is here that offerings are made to the 


divinities to secure the well-being of the village, and of the 
cattle in particular. 

To make an offering to the divinities is kupaila, a form 
of the word kupa (" to give "), and signifying to give re- 
peatedly or frequently. The offering itself is chipaizho 
(" that which is given," or more accurately, " that by means 
of which one gives ") . Two other words, impaizho and mapai, 
meaning the same, are formed from the root. Another 
word often used is kutula (" to offer"), and chituzho is the 
thing offered. A place at which things are offered is chi- 
paidilo, or chitudilo. 

These words are not restricted entirely to the service of 
the divinities, but are occasionally (and kutula more fre- 
quently than kupaila) used of presents given by one person 
to another, and especially of gifts to a superior. The word 
kukomba corresponds very well to our " worship " in the 
broad sense. 

Many things are offered to the divinities, anything indeed 
that has value, or may be thought to be valuable to the 
divinities. Beer, grain, tobacco, hemp, hoes, bells, impande 
shells : all these among others are offered. The commonest 
of all is water ; a person fills his mouth with it and spits 
it out upon the ground. Simpler still is it to offer the 
saliva ; but here a necessary distinction must be made. A 
violent expectoration, such as may be represented by Thu ! 
is a curse ; a gentle expectoration, Tsu ! is an accompani- 
ment of an offering, or an offering in itself, to the divinities. 

The occasions for offerings are numerous ; they are made 
whenever there is need to approach a divinity, either to 
propitiate his anger or to entreat some blessing from him, 
or whenever his devotee wishes to do him honour. We 
may specify some of these occasions. 

As we saw in a previous chapter, various things are 
placed in the grave and vocally offered to the deceased. 
The beer and beef consumed by the mourners are also to 
be taken as a form of offering, though perhaps not always 
regarded as such by the people themselves. Two or three 
days after the funeral ceremonies are completed and the 
crowds have dispersed, the relatives meet to drink beer 
named funku owetwe (" beer of the ash "). The occasion of 




this is the sweeping up of the ashes left from the fires made 
by the mourners : they are carefully gathered and thrown 
away into the veld. After some time they meet again for 
the funku owa nsako (" beer of the shafts ") — meaning the 
shafts of the deceased's spears, which are then broken and 
thrown away. Then comes funku owa kuzhola munganda 
mufu (" beer to bring back the deceased into the house "). 
It is a kind of welcome home to the ghost. A month or 
two after the funeral is funku owa mapai (" beer of the offer- 

rhoto E. II'. Smith. 

The Grave of our Friend Mungalo. 

ings ") — a simple feast in honour of the deceased, at which 
an ox is killed and eaten and beer is drunk. The next and 
last of the series is called funku owa madidila (" beer of the 
final weeping "), probably a year after the funeral. There- 
after there are no set occasions upon which an ordinary 
divinity, as distinguished from a communal divinity, is to 
be celebrated : only when they need his help or he makes 
his needs known by bringing some trouble upon them. 

Such an occasion is the illness of a member of the family. 
The diviner on being consulted may say that the sickness 
is caused by a divinity who thinks himself neglected. So 


the head of the family makes an offering in his house : and 
prays: "Tsu! Nandiwewasashamwanesu,nguwezomukuku 
ngulanga, tombwe aze. Uwe Leza na ndiwe ukunjaya n'apone 
kabotu (" Tsu ! If it be thou who art causing our child's 
sickness, see, here is the beer which thou wantest, and also 
some tobacco. And if it be Thou, O Leza ! who art 
destroying me, I pray Thee let him recover"). Here is 
another prayer offered by a man on behalf of his child : 
" Akaka, tola, na ndiwe muleke mwanako adiendele. Tsu! 
Akaka, tata, no kambonzhi ? Anu tamuboni nu mizhimo 
nimudi kunze. Tsu! Akaka, muchembele, muleke. Noula- 
dila kudya, ulakukumbila mukuku ng'udila, ulakupaila. 
Akudi ndiwe, muleke, aende bubona bushiku. Tsu! A kaka, tata, 
twakukomba ("Oh, my father, if it be thou (who art troubling 
him) leave the child alone that he may go about alone. Tsu ! 
Oh, my father, what is the matter ? You divinities who are 
without, he doesn't see you (i.e. doesn't recognise you). 
Tsu ! Oh, old man, leave him alone. If thou art crying 
for something to eat, he shall brew thee the beer thou criest 
for and make thee an offering. If it be thou, leave him 
alone that he may walk this very day. Tsu ! Oh, my 
father, we worship thee ! ") If it is the head of the house 
himself who is sick, he makes an offering on his own behalf : 
" Tsu ! Na ndiwe akaka ndeka, ndeendele, no chinzhi 
uch'ukapula ? Kai, tombwe ngu wezo, menzhi ngazo, ibwantu 
ndi ledi. Ndeka ndikusobanina budio " (" Tsu ! If it be 
thou, O leave me alone, that I may be well. What is it 
thou requirest ? See, here is tobacco, here is water, here 
is beer. Leave me alone that I may enjoy myself"). 

Before a hunter sets off on the chase, he takes water in 
a dipper, together with tobacco, or hemp if he is a smoker 
of that narcotic, and places them at the foot of the musemu. 
He may add a little meal to the water. He spits out a 
mouthful of the water and prays : " Tsu ! Nini, ngu wezu 
tombwe lubange, ndakupa ; ndaya mwisokwe atuende tonsc ; 
kutabi uchebuka munshi, atuendele tonse. Chisamo chikadi 
na ch' one ,inzoka inkadi nesakane, shiluma shonse kashisakana, 
pele kuyana chimana malweza, muzovu ngu wakuwula kulota, 
pete kusamba " (" Tsu ! So-and-so, see here is tobacco and 
hemp that I give thee ; when I go to the veld, let us all go 




together ; let there be none who looks back, let us go on 
all together. Let the sharp stick sleep ! May the fierce 
snake be far away ! Let all biting things be far away ! 
Let there only be found the end of that horror — the elephant 
that was picked up dead in a dream ! Let there be good 
fortune ! ") He makes his offering after killing game, by 
throwing morsels in all directions, and on returning home 
deposits the meat first at the Iwanga, where he makes another 
offering, to his own genius first and then to the family 

Photo E. li: Smith. 


An unsuccessful hunter will consult a diviner, saying, 
" Who is it that prevents my killing game ? Is it Leza, or 
is it a divinity ? Tell me." He consults the oracle, finds 
it is a divinity and tells the man to make an offering to his 
father or uncle. " And when you have done so, go to bed, 
and early in the morning go into the veld and you will kill 
an animal." He does so and is successful. When he has 
skinned the animal and cut it up, he makes an offering of 
pieces of meat in the manner already described, and again 
afterwards at the Iwanga. 

When a man's son returns home from a long journey, or 
after a lengthy residence elsewhere, he takes him into the 

vol. 11 N 


hut and paila's him by sprinkling water on him and giving 
him beads or other things ; they are named impaizho, and 
are intended as an offering to the divinities, who have 
guarded the man's son and brought him safely home. It 
would be buditazhi for a person to paila in this way any 
one not related to him (see Vol. I. p. 287). 

Sometimes people gather around the grave of a departed 
relation or chief. The chief takes a calabash-cup of beer or 
water, pours a little upon the grave, and passes it to the 
person next to him, who does the same. So the cup circu- 
lates and each person pours out in turn a little of the con- 
tents. This is kulazha muzhimo (" to greet the divinity "). 

When a village is moved to a new site the goodwill of 
the divinities must first be obtained so that they will con- 
sent to remove with the people. Further, care must be 
taken that no malign influences destroy the felicity of the 
removal. The chief goes to a doctor to enlist his aid ; 
together they visit the proposed new site, and the doctor, 
if he approves of it, doctors (wainda) it with his "medicines." 
They return to the old village and after a time set out again, 
accompanied by the people, and preceded by a woman 
(sometimes a child) carrying a pot of " medicine." Some 
poles are first planted in a small circle where the gateway 
of the new village is to be, and the woman places her pot 
of medicine within them. Then an ox is killed and some 
of its blood added to the contents of the pot. Then the 
chief offers a prayer : " Hear us, O divinities, that our 
village may be firm and strong." As an additional safe- 
guard, the doctor drives in pegs of musamo around the site 
to keep off witchcraft and other evils from the new village. 

In a case like the foregoing, it is primarily the divinities 
of his own house that the chief addresses, and each man as 
he speaks the prayer directs his thoughts to his own family 
divinities. It will be seen that there is no organised priest- 
hood in this cult. The head of each family acts as the 
priest, as far as his divinities are concerned, and his wife 
approaches hers ; the chief of the village appeals to his on 
behalf of the village, for they are on a different footing 
from the ordinary family divinities who do not act outside 
the family limits ; like him they have a representative 




capacity, acting in the other world, as he acts in this, as 
the guardians of the village. 

riwlo E. II . Sunt 

The Chief, Kakua, and his Lwanga. 

When the early maize is ready, the people go through 
the ceremonies of knsomya : that is, before they eat any of 
the grain (kusoma) they make an offering to their divinities. 




The man goes to the field and plucks a few ripe ears of 
maize and takes them to the village. He strips off the 
husks and takes the cobs to the grave of a certain ancestor. 
He sweeps around the grave and then kneeling before the 
grave, says, " So-and-so, here is some of the maize which 
is ripe first and which I offer thee." Having done this he 
returns to his home, and at the threshold of his hut makes 
another offering in the same way : afterwards hanging some 
of the cobs over the door, or in the rafters. 

2. The Great Mizhimo : Communal Divinities 

The genius is the man's own personal divinity ; each 
family has its own ; and the chief's or headman's divinities 
are in a way the guardians of the village. Over and above 
all these, are the great mizhimo, whose function it is to care 
for the common interests of the communes to which they 
belong. They are distinguished from all others by their 
greater permanence ; within the family the ghosts of one's 
remote ancestors cease to be regarded, but the respect paid 
to communal divinities lasts as long as the community 
■ survives. And they are unlike in this respect also : the 
I communal divinities are never reincarnated, but remain in 
the spirit world. While the Ba-ila give them all the same 
name, mizhimo, we may, to mark the grades in the hierarchy, 
call the three classes : Genii, divinities, and demigods. 

First let us transcribe what one of our informants had 
to say about the demigods. 

" The divinities of the community are common property, 
there is no man who can claim them as his own. As at 
Kasenga, for example, where Shimunenga belongs to the 
whole community and all, whether chief or slaves, put their 
trust in him for what they need. They do not rely upon 
him in case of ordinary sickness — that is a matter for the 
family divinities — but for wealth, for victory in war, for 
protection against lions and in pestilence ; against all things 
that fight against them they trust him, saying, ' Shimunenga, 
our muzhimo, will save us.' In all the communities it is 
just the same ; they have one, or two, or three demigods. 
If a lion is killed the chief takes it to Shimunenga's grave 

' I' : 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 181 

and the muzhimo is grateful for it shows the trust his people 
have in him — a trust shown in the offering. If one kills a 
leopard he does the same, taking the head to show that it 
is the great muzhimo of the community who gave the good 
fortune to kill that fierce beast. If there should be a 
pestilence, all the people have faith that this muzhimo will 
remove it so that they die not. Every community that 
God created is the same, there is none that has not its 
muzhimo to whom offerings are made. The divinities of 
men are not assimilated ; a man who is not your relation 
does not join you in making offerings to your divinities ; 
he would be doing wrong. But it is otherwise with the 
communal demigod : none refrains from calling upon him ; 
he belongs to all. In a household there are various divini- 
ties ; a husband prays to his, a wife prays to hers ; but as 
members of a community they all pray to one and the same 

As we look back into the past, there emerge from the 
hazy gloom the figures of these demigods who are regarded 
with such impressive reverence. This is a list of some of 
them and the communities to which they belong : 

At Kasenga : Shimunenga. 

„ Kabulamwanda : Zambwe. 
,, Bambwe : Sheebelelwa. 

,, Bunga : Kazua. 

,, Kasamo : Shibulwe. 

,, Ianda : Mushanana. 

,, Lubanda : Namashaka. 

,, Lubwe : Mwanachiwala. 

,, Ngoma : Shanyimba. 

,, Basanga : Ngala and Namadiia 

„ Nalubanda, Chiyadila, Munga, ] 

Naluvwi, Maulizhi, Byangwe, > Malumbe. 

Kabanga, Nzovu, Nyambo, Lusaka. ) 
In other districts N.W. : Munyama. 

These demigods vary in importance according to the 
extent of the territory over which they are the guardians, 
the number of their present adherents, and the length of 
time that has elapsed since they left the earth. Some of 
these named above are, in these respects, of inferior note : 
three stand out pre-eminent, viz. Malumbe, Munyama, and 




Of Malumbe — who to-day is worshipped over a larger 
area than any other demigod of the Ba-ila — it is said that 
his father was named Mungalo, who came from the far 
east. Mungalo had two children, Malu mbe and Chintu, 
the latter being the ancestress of the present Basala chief, 
Shakumbila. Others say that Malumbe was the son^jiot 
the brother, of Chintu. In accordance with his origin in 
Busala is his praise-name : Mwana-Musala. Others say that 
his father was Shitemambalo, and his mother Nachisanto. 
The latter died, it is said, of hunger, and people all over the 
land pray to her in time of drought. 

When Malumbe grew into a man, he became famous as 
a wonder-worker. Then he came from Busala among the 
Ba-ila and gained the submission of the people in the dis- 
tricts where to-day he is reverenced as a muzhimo. He did 
not gain sway by means of the spear, but by reason of the 
fear he inspired. He is said to have struck with blindness 
all who opposed him. He was contemporary with Mu- 
nyama and they were rivals. To settle their claims, the 
two chiefs agreed to appeal not to the spear but to a trial 
of skill in the chisolo game, which, according to one tradi- 
tion, had been introduced by Malumbe. They met near 
the hot springs — Isho dia Mwino, in the neighbourhood of 
Mafwele. The first game fell to Munyama ; the second to 
Malumbe ; a third to Malumbe and the fourth to Mu- 
nyama. Munyama wished to play one more game to settle 
the question, but Malumbe refused. By so doing he for- 
feited his claims to the country he was contesting, and it 
fell to Munyama. This tradition comes to us from a de- 
scendant of Munyama and is contradicted by another from 
fhe other side, according to which Malumbe was victorious, 
and gained in consequence much territory which hitherto 
had been Munyama's. 

Another tradition assigns the creation of Isho dia Mwino 
to the agency of Malumbe. He had seen farther north a 
similar spring from which the possessors drew a considerable 
income by making salt ; and Malumbe thereupon made 
Isho dia Mwino to spring up for the benefit of his own 
people, and caused the other to dry up. 

Malumbe's end on earth is said to have been very 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 183 

mysterious. He simply disappeared. His spears, clothes, 
and ornaments were discovered by the side of a deep pool, 
but he himself was never seen again. Before leaving earth, 
he parcelled out his territory among several chiefs. 

Of Munyama it is said that his mother and father came 
down in a rainstorm from heaven, and afterwards gave 
birth to him. One tradition is that he, or his parents, were \ 
immigrants from the Lunda country in the far north-west. 
He_became a very powerful chief, had a great many people 
under him : so many, his descendant Mulendema told us, 
that no trees were left in the land, and as for his village, 
you could travel a whole day and yet not get through it ! 
After his death, different chiefs set up for themselves, and 
one by one hived off. So that to-day Mulendema sits alone 
with his family in a village of about ten miserable huts and 
complains much as he thinks of the departed glories of his 

Shimunenga is the communal god of the ba-Mala, the 
people of the Kasenga district. How long ago he lived it 
is impossible to say. He is spoken of as Mukandonokwabo • 
Malnmbe Munyama (" the ancient one who was con- 
temporary with Malumbe and Munyama"), but little is- 
known of him, and we cannot even guess when he lived. 
It is significant that like the other two great mizhimo he \\\ 
was an immigrant. His praise-name is Munambala (" the 
one of the Mbala country "), i.e. he came from the north 
somewhere. His father is said to have lived at Kaundu. 

Besides Shimunenga there is at Kasenga a female 
divinity named Nachilomwe. She is said to have been 
a contemporary of Shimunenga ; some say she was his 
mother, others his sister. 

In the other communities there are the demigods we 
have named, but often it seems that the most ancient ones 
are not those most regarded to-day. They lived so long ' 
ago that the people prefer others who were more recently 
in the flesh among them. Thus at Lubwe, Mwanachiwala 
is to some extent displaced by Shepande. 

In each commune there is a grove of trees consecrated 
to the demigod. It is called Isaka (" the thicket "), or 
Isoko ("the place of origin"). Malumbe's grove is at 




Malende in the Mauluzhi commune, Munyama's is near 
Chikuni's village, and Shimunenga's at Mala, within the 

Offerings upon a Grave. 

Pho'o E. 11'. Smith. 

Kasenga district. Besides the principal grove each has 
subsidiary groves or single large trees where the demigod 
at times takes up residence ; thus Shimunenga has a large 
fig-tree at Chitumbi and another at Busangu. 




The origin of the groves may be the poles planted 
around the graves. In course of time they would grow 
into large trees, decay, and be replaced by younger ones 
growing up around them. As it is taboo to meddle with 
the trees and the brushwood springing up under and around 
them, a dense impenetrable thicket is formed. Shimunenga's 
grove at Mala covers at least an acre of ground ; on its 
outskirts there stand several large wild fig-trees, upon one 
of which, in particular, various skulls of cattle and animals 
hang bleaching — remains of past offerings. We have tried 

r/wto B. II'. Smith 

Shimunenga's Gkove at Mala. 

many times, but always unsuccessfully, to induce the 
Kasenga chief to take us into this grove. Sometimes we 
imagined that we had persuaded him, but always at the 
last moment, and once after he had got as far as the grove 
itself, he found a polite excuse for declining. It would not 
be easy to enter. There is no path into the interior. Only 
the " priest " ever enters and he but once a year, when he 
has to cut his way in. 

Sometimes in travelling one comes upon a beautiful ' 
grove in a region destitute of inhabitants. It stands as a 
witness to the denser population of former days, for it was 
at one time the revered centre of a community that has 
now died out or been dispersed. Such a grove is that of 



Maundu between Kalundo and Ngabo. It stands at the 
summit of a slope and is about half an acre in extent. There 
is but one entry. Creeping in there, between and under 
the thickly massed trees, you enter what is a fit temple for 
a sylvan god. There is a vacant space in the centre, the 
heads of the tall evergreen trees arching overhead and 
almost shutting out the sky. Long twisted vines hang 
down from them. The ground is strewn thick with leaves. 
Here is a bone, bleached with age, the remains of some 
offering. But there are no signs of any recent sacrifice. 
The grove no longer resounds with the rejoicing of the 
yearly festival. For the chishi has vanished and no devotees 
now forgather here. In such a case the ghosts continue for 
a time to haunt the trees, but they are cold and hungry and 
lonely, and should no fresh inhabitants take the place of the 
old the memory of them dies out — which is as much as to 
say that they themselves perish. And the communal demi- 
god shares their fate : maybe his very name is forgotten. 

Besides these groves there are in some communes other 
sacred spots, associated in "some way with the demigod. 
At Mala there is such a spot named Nakatunda. It is a 
bare place about an acre in extent, with a solitary palm- 
tree growing upon it. It is strictly taboo : nobody may 
cultivate there, nor build. Nobody has been able to give 
us an explanation of the name. It is one of the places that 
are reckoned as chikomo : an obscure word which is applied 
to places, rites, and customs traditionally associated with 
the demigods. It is here that the communal gatherings 
take place before and after war : where the warriors are 
doctored, where war is decided upon, where the cattle are 
killed in ratification of peace ; and it is here that the chiefs 
and people meet to discuss what shall be done when a 
murder has been committed. 

In past days it was no uncommon thing for an embassy 
to arrive at Mala from a neighbouring community to solicit 
aid in war. The request was made in this form : " Kamwiza 
bakwesu, mukatutemene kasanzhi oka meya kapatizhile ' 
(" Come, brothers, and cut down for us a twig covered with 
thorns "). A ready response was generally forthcoming, for 
the ba-Mala were always spoiling for a fight, and dressed and 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 187 

armed for war they collected quickly at Nakatunda, where 
oxen were killed — called ing'ombe sha makulo — to seal the 
compact. At the close of the war, the opposing parties would 
meet at Nakatunda, and again oxen would be killed — kuyaya 
kakosa — and partaken of by all, as a declaration of peace. 
When a murder has taken place within the community, the 
people assemble at Nakatunda, singing an old song that runs 
something like this : 

Nguni wabisha kono ? Who is it that has been doing 

wrong here ? 
Wa-wo-o, katuyabuenda. Wa-wo-o, let us all go. 

Ye-ye ! Wo ! We ! Ye-ye ! Wo ! We ! 

Kwabula bapanda bwanga, There are none who can purge it 

with medicine. 
Wa-wo-o, katuyabuenda. Wa-wo-o, let us all go. 

Shimunenga's medium delivers a message to the effect that 
the demigod is offended by the murder, and that steps must 
be taken to discover the impious criminal. He is made to 
pay -Iwembe (" weregild ") of from ten to twenty cattle, 
which he collects from among his friends and clansmen. 
Two of the oxen are killed at Nakatunda : they are the luloa, 
offering to. Shimunenga ; the flesh is eaten by the people 
and the heads deposited at the grove. One, or two, are 
reserved for the representative of the demigod, i.e. the 
' priest." The rest are distributed among the chiefs : so 
that each subdivision of the commune has one at least. 

In all these observances the community as a whole is 
regarded as assembling in the presence of the demigod. 
The affairs are those in which he takes an immediate personal 

There is no organised priesthood associated with the \ 
demigods. But they have their representatives on earth, 
one class of whom seems to be a rudimentary priesthood. 
Presiding over the central grove in each commune is a 
custodian whose duty it is to receive and make the offerings 
on behalf of the people, to summon the people to the period- 
ical feasts, and it is he who takes as his perquisite two of 
the cattle paid as luloa. In the former capacity he is 
mupaizhi (" offerer ") or mupaidizhi (" offerer on behalf of 
others ") ; in the latter he is mukonki (" a summoner "). 



This office is generally hereditary. At Mala it is held by a 
man named Kabombwe, whose son is now associated with 
him in the duties. The other men who figure in the rites 
are the mediums through whom the demigods make their 
will known. At Kasenga there are two of these ; one is a 
middle-aged man named Nakahunga. At times one of them 
falls into a trance (mu chiyu). It happened thus in June 
1911. Nakahunga was sitting quietly with his friends in 
the evening when he was " seized." The people carried him 
into the veld where he remained unconscious till next morn- 
ing. They told us he was convulsed with contortions and 
twitchings (wazuzuba). On being questioned the communi- 
cator announced himself as Shimunenga and proceeded to 
give a message to the community. Nakahunga told us 
afterwards that he was quite unaware of what had happened. 
In reply to a question he said that he first became " pos- 
sessed ' ' when a child. We always wanted to see him in 
that state, but never had an opportunity. 

We have mentioned that when a lion is killed the trophies 
are offered to the demigod. One night shortly after our 
arrival at Kasenga we were awakened by a sudden outburst 
of drumming from the cattle outpost close by and the 
simultaneous shouting of our workmen aroused from sleep. 
On inquiry next morning we learnt that the drums had 
been beaten to convey to the community the news of the 
death of a lion. About midnight it had sprung over the 
high fence and seized a cow. The three or four herdsmen 
had issued from their huts and attacked it with their spears 
— a plucky thing to do in the dark. We were in time to 
see the little procession of men, carrying the skin and head, 
set out on its way to Shimunenga's grove. In such a case, 
the skin would be taken by the chief, and the " priest " 
would deposit the head in a tree of the grove as a solemn 
recognition of and thanksgiving for the demigod's assist- 

Another occasion for approaching Shimunenga is at the 
sowing season. The " priest " goes to the Isoko and plants 
a few seeds as an offering ; before this is done nobody may 
sow his fields, but once the demigod has been recognised 
they may set to work. Early in the season when the corn 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 189 

begins to show above the surface (kuvhwa busonga) the 
priest makes another offering. 

Apart from these occasions, every demigod has at least 
one annual festival in his honour. It is called an ikubi. 
At Kasenga, the makubi of Nachilomwe and Shimunenga 
are held some time in September, i.e. at the close of the old 
and beginning of the new year, according to their reckoning, 
in connection with the opening of the cultivation season 
and the departure of the cattle for the outposts {kuwila, 
see Vol. I. p. 131). 

We will translate an account of this ikubi given to us 
by one of our informants : 

" The festival of Shimunenga is called (diakonkwa) at \j^V 
the new year {kumwaka) according to his sacred custom ; 
(chikomo). It is said, ' The year has come round again.' 
Kabombwe goes to Mala and enters Shimunenga's grove 
and holds conversation with him. This finished he goes fe 
round to all the villages and says, ' Gather firewood and 
begin the brewing of the beer.' After several days, think- 
ing that by this time they have gathered the wood and the 
malt has sprouted, he returns to Mala and gives a second 
summons : ' Now put the beer to brew.' So on the 
morrow they begin and for four or five days are busy with 
the beer. On the fifth day all the cattle are collected to 
sleep at Mala and the drums begin to sound throughout the 
commune. On the sixth day, all the men plaster them- 
selves with white clay, and they and the women adorn 
themselves in their finery. And they call upon his name : 
' Shimunenga, Lobwe, Udimbabachembe ! ' (' Shimunenga, 
Gatherer of men, Giver of virility to males ! ') Then they 
all drink beer. The men make compacts with the women, 
that is to say, give them cattle, and the women rejoice and 
give their lovers leopard skins and cloth and other things 
as they wish. All join in these things. On the morrow 
the same things happen. And they drive out the cattle, 
and wila, i.e. go down to the outposts on the river bank. 
In leaving Mala they are preceded by Shibeenzu's herd ; 
his is the one to lead the way and goes by itself ; the others 
follow after. They go down to the Lubunda ford and there 
they cross. When all are on the other bank, they recross 


them to this, separate the herds and each goes off by itself. 
Before leaving Mala, and while the men are all charging up 
and down (kukwenzha), all the women lululoo and cry : 
' Ulu ! Let the cattle beget and bear coloured calves ! 
O Shimunenga, Gatherer of men, Giver of virility to 
males ! Let them bring forth coloured calves ! ' This is 
how the festival is celebrated. They drink plenty of beer 
and are all very happy. When it is over they leave the 
villages and go off to the fields to cultivate, and things go 
on until the year comes round again." 

We will now supplement this account by some notes 
written by us after being present at a festival : 

" Went to Mala to-day to witness some Shimunenga 
celebrations. Came to Chidyaboloto's and finding they had 
not yet started, sat there. The women were busy getting 
their finery ready, many wearing the mukaku girdle, others 
with strings of white beads around their waist. Presently 
women began to pass by the village singing. Then a party 
of men came in, singing and beating sticks together to 
make a noise. They came and knelt before Chidyaboloto, 
evidently singing his praises, but I couldn't catch the words. 
My boys said the men go all round the villages doing this 
and in return the headmen give them beer. I went off, 
leaving the men there. Long lines of women were con- 
verging from all the villages towards Shimunenga' s grove. 
They wended their way there and joined company outside 
the grove, singing with all their might and clapping their 
hands. Presently a man came with a drum and started 
beating it to help the women in their singing. This being 
the women's day the men simply stood and watched. 
Presently the men we had seen at Chidyaboloto's came 
round singing. What they sang I could not distinguish, nor 
the songs of the women. One of my boys said, ' They're 
singing about us,' and another replied, ' Why, they sing 
about anybody.' Shambweka came up and said it was 
their custom thus to pray for rain. In the midst of these 
proceedings, which lasted about an hour, a ceremony took 
place which struck me as very incongruous." (This has 
been described in another chapter : it was the Lubambo 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 191 

This we found was the song of the men as they knelt 
before Chidyaboloto : — 

Boloto wakakala shishishini 
Muwale kashishi, akauliike ! 

" Boloto sat as an owl, 
Throw a firestick at him and make him fly away ! 

The men on the path sang : — 

Umudi Shimunenga 
Mwenzu ndi abia taumwa : 

' Where Shimunenga is, a visitor, however ugly he may 
be, is not to be beaten." (This about us !) 

The songs of the women are the same as those sung at 
funerals, i.e. mostly phallic in character. 

On this first day of the feast, the women's day, Nachi- 
lomwe, the female demigod, is associated with Shimunenga 
in the celebrations. The display of the cattle on the second 
day, the men's day, seems to be for the purpose of showing 
them to Shimunenga. We cannot say whether the demigod 
is thought of as partaking in the feast of beer. We should 
rather say that just as a living chief is pleased and 
complimented by an exhibition of his people's happiness 
and wealth, so Shimunenga is thought to be gratified by 
this display — so gratified that at this critical season of 
the year he will in return do his utmost to increase their 
prosperity in field and herd. 

There is a monotonous sameness about all the makubi. 
There is always plenty of beer ; much dancing and singing ; 
charging up and down by men with their spears ; lewd 
songs and a general license. In many points the annual 
feast is comparable with the Saturnalia. 

At the end of 1914 something happened at Kasenga that 
had never been known before : the months slipped by and 
no festival was held for Shimunenga. When January came 
in and still Kabombwe gave no signs of summoning the 
people, a meeting of the chiefs was held to discuss the 
matter. The reason was found to be that Kabombwe was 
angry. He made this declaration : " This year I have not 
inaugurated the festival because when, two years ago, one of 


Shimalondo's people committed murder you never gave me 
part of the luloa, but nevertheless I held the festival. This 
last year there have been two murders and I have received 
no cattle. Now, I, Kabombwe, how can I hold the festival 
in the face of these things ? Is it not always so, that when 
a murder takes place you give me a cow and you also collect 
two great oxen to be killed for Shimunenga ? " The 
assembly could only answer him in the affirmative : and it 
was decided that the cattle should be collected. Why they 
had never been paid we do not know. All three of the 
murders had been committed by clansmen of one chief, and 
the old man addressed the assembly in a great state of mind. 
Said he, " You are killing me altogether ! How can I find 
thirty head of cattle to pay these fines ? ' They insisted, 
until Nalubwe called for silence and spoke : ' I say, my 
brothers, that Shimalonda cannot find these thirty head of 
cattle. Let him bring one, a fine big ox, to die at the 
grove. And let Machacha, at the chisungu feast of whose 
daughter the other murder took place — let him bring a cow 
in calf and give to Kabombwe. And let the clansmen of 
the third murderer all contribute ten cattle for the damages 
and one big ox to die at Shimunenga's grove. This is 
what I say, I Nalubwe ! ' And it seemed good to all the 
chiefs and they ordered this to be done. But as a matter 
of fact, when we left Kasenga in March 1915 the feast had 
not been held. 

3. Bulongo 

Of all the figures in the Ila pantheon, the most elusive 
is the arch-demigod Bulongo. We put him in a class by 
himself because, according to the imperfect information we 
have collected, he seems not to be a local demigod such as 
Shimunenga, but to be regarded over a wider area than 
even Malumbwe : as one of our informants says, "He is 
the muzhimo of the whole country : there is no community 
that does not pray to him." He has no grove such as the 
others have, but has temporary huts built for him. At 
Mala, his representative is an old blind chief named Nalubwe, 
who is said to be a lineal descendant from Shimunenga. The 
latter, we are told, was the first to ordain that an annual 

ch.xxii THE DIVINITIES 193 

ikubi should be held in honour of Bulongo, and the dignity 
of Bulongo's priesthood has descended not to the chief who 
has inherited Shimunenga's chieftainship, but in Shimu- 
nenga's family. Nalubwe has the clan-name borne by Shi- 
munenga, i.e. Nyungwe ; and this is an interesting example 
of how exceptionally the clan may descend through the 
father, and not through the mother. His ancestors since 
Shimunenga's time have all, he tells us, lived where he 
lives now. 

We will transcribe three accounts of Bulongo that we 
have received from different men : 

" That Bulongo," said our friend the Mala blacksmith, 
" is the greatest on earth. Every person puts his trust in 
Bulongo at all times, for when they pray to him at a time 
when they have no water falling from Leza, it will come — 
Leza will let fall much water. But they do not know who "j^ 
he is; all they know is they found him (i.e. his name) 
here_ on earth. It is said of him : Bulongo, greatest on 
earth among those earliest ancients, is earth only. They 
praise him thus : ' Bulongo, Mwanamungo, we are humble 
before thee/ When they call thus upon him, rain falls. 
Again, after the grain is ripe they make a festival for him 
in the winter. The first _irijthe year is Bulongo's ; after- 
wards comes Shimunenga's. It is said again he is the 
friend of God (mwenzhina, comrade, equal, fellow). When 
they pray to Bulongo, Leza throws down {walosha) water, 
so they suppose that the two are together (badibwenene, ' in 
each other's sight'). Some suppose Bulongo is the greater, 
and Leza to be as his friend only, or as his ' child.' Only 
really nobody knows these things. Our fathers never saw 
Bulongo, but perhaps their grandfathers knew better about 
him ; perhaps they saw him himself. This is all that can 
be said of Bulongo. He is earth only, not a person." 

Another man said, " Bulongo is simply a musangnshi , 
he is not a person. Nobody knows him. The ancients 
simply found him here when they descended long long ago, 
and they sacrificed to him in blindness because of what 
they had heard by the ears. The Ba-ila found their fathers 
of long long ago doing this, so those who came after them 
did as they did, simply carrying on the tradition. Bulongo 

VOL. ir o 


speaks to us only through Shimunenga. When he wants 
to have beer brewed for him he seizes Shimunenga in the 
usual fashion of a control (mu chisoko cha kushinshima) and 
Shimunenga in turn seizes his medium and tells his name. 
The people ask, ' What is it you say, sir ? ' and he 
replies, ' I say, brew beer for Bulongo.' The Ba-ila at 
once consent and say, ' We are humble, O Chief ! we 
will brew beer.' When he has given that message, Shimu- 
nenga leaves the medium, and he who had been entered 
recovers and becomes a man again. The Ba-ila get to work : 
the whole country puts malt to soak and brews beer. On 
the day for drinking it, all the ba-Mala go to the little huts 
yonder in Nalubwe's village, every person with a calabash 
of beer to offer to Bulongo. They pour it on the ground 
and cry, ' We are humble, O Bulongo ! See here is beer 
which we give you.' He who calls that feast is Nalubwe, 
and in doing so is carrying on the sacred custom (chikomo) 
left by his fathers, and they who begat his fathers found 
it being done by those who begat them. But not one of 
that line of descent knew him ; they heard only by the 
ears that Bulongo is — whether a man, or a ghost, or whoever 
he may be, they do not know. Another time Bulongo 
' seizes ' by means of Shimunenga and tells people to do 
so-and-so according to his wishes. And Nalubwe himself, 
as it is his chikomo, if he wishes to call a festival, tells 
the people, ' Let Bulongo be built a house.' Then all 
the people bring every one a bundle of sticks and the 
women small bunches of grass, and build those small houses 
for Bulongo. And if he wants beer brewed for Bulongo 
he gives his orders, whether it be the winter or any other 
time. But as for knowing him, nobody knows. They 
simply imagine things. And in plastering those huts, all 
the people join, bringing small lumps of clay. As the 
people of Mala are so numerous, some of them can't get 
near with their contribution, but they try, and they who 
struggle forward do well. Again it is said : Bulongo 
belongs to all the communes, there is no commune where 
Bulongo is not. No, in all the world his existence is 
recognised — everywhere. But as for seeing him, among 
all the people there is none who has seen him, no, no, they 

ch. xxii THE DIVINITIES 195 

imagine things only. Some say : He is earth ; others : 
He is a ghost ; others : He is just wind (muwo) ; others 
say : He is a man who came from the Sala country. He 
never was seen ; that is all we can be sure of." 

The third account says : 

" Bulongo also was a man and had his origin in the 
Sala country at Nashamwenda's. He also was a fellow of 
Shimunenga, for those two were living at the same time. 
It is from the Sala country that the impande shell came, 
because when Bulongo' s people descended they brought 
the shells with them — shells and all kinds of wealth, such 
as bukolwe and mambulukutu, i.e. large beads. People 
of to-day have never seen these, but n those old days 
you took a string of beads, long enough to go round your 
neck and down to the navel, and bought an awfully nice 
girl with it. All these are things heard by the ears, even 
Kabombwe and Nalubwe, the masters of these ceremonies, 
never saw them. Bulongo has a festival made for him 
at Nalubwe's. They meet to drink beer, dressed in their 
finery, and they praise him, saying, ' Bulongo Mwana- 
mungo, Mwanakumpande, Upaokutuba' (' Giver even to 
the whites/ i.e. to unfortunates, wasters). He is 
worshipped in the summer, whenever rain does not fall 
and there is great heat. They build a little hut at 
Nalubwe's, on the western side of the village near the 
big gate. There are three altogether : Nachilomwe, elder 
sister of Shimunenga ; Shimunenga himself and Bulongo ; 
they are the three great ones of the Mala community. If 
it should be that these three did not speak as usual at 
the change of the year, the ba-Mala would be perplexed 
and say : ' Where have our demigods (mizhimo) gone to- 
day ? The year has gone without our hearing their words.' 
That is how the people speak. They haven't a lot to say 
for nobody has ever seen them, but this is the way in which 
these three are worshipped." 

We have had many talks with Nalubwe himself about 
Bulongo. He is a very intelligent old man — the most in- 
telligent of the Ba-ila chiefs, we should say ; and he is not 
one who puts you off with fancy legends, but discusses a 
matter reasonably. But we have not been able to add 




much to the accounts given above. Nalubwe will not 
dogmatise as to who or what Bulongo is. It seems to him 
that he could not have been a man ; he still lives, that is 
certain, but whether as muwo or musangushi he does not 
know. We discussed the question of the identity of Bulongo 
with Leza, for some people confuse the two. When you 
ask for Bulongo's praise-titles they answer : Mwanamungo, 
Chiotamaila, Nakumpande, etc. " And what are Leza's ? " 
Lubumba, Chilenga, etc. " You do not praise Bulongo as 
Lubumba ? " Oh, no. " Nor Leza as Nakumpande ? " 
Certainly not. Well, that shows they are not the same. 
Nalubwe agrees to that. Ba-ila and Bambala make an 
annual festival in Bulongo's honour and build houses for 
him ; the other demigods have their groves. But nowhere 
in Bwila has Leza a local habitation, natural or artificial, 
and nowhere is a festival held for him. The little houses 
built for Bulongo remind one of similar structures put up 
for every prophet that arises in Bwila. And we imagine 
that Bulongo is the name of a very ancient prophet, either 
contemporary with Shimunenga or more probably prior to 
him, who gained an unrivalled influence all through the Ila 
countries, so much so that since his death he has remained 
the one muzhimo that is venerated in all the districts. 
There is probably some truth in the tradition that he came 
from the Sala country : he may have come with other 
emigrants from some country farther north and introduced 
the impande shells and other things mentioned above. 

We ought to mention before leaving the subject, that 
one of our informants had the idea of Bulongo being the 
earth (the name means clay) and Leza the sky, and the 
union of the two producing grain and all other things. 

We have been mounting through the stages of the Ila 
hierarchy — genii, divinities, demigods, arch-demigod — all 
spoken of as mizhimo, but having an ever-widening scope 
of action ; it remains now to deal with Leza, the Supreme 
Being, whose sphere is cosmical. 


-K" CnmA> 



The Ba-ila tell a legend of a very bid woman, who in ancient 
times, being perplexed by the riddle of this painful earth, 
set out to seek for Leza and to demand from him an explana- 
tion. The legend runs thus : 

She was an old woman of a family with a long genealogy. 
Leza being Shikakunamo — " the besetting One " — stretched 
out his hand against her family. He slew her mother and 
father while she was yet a child : and in the course of the 
years all connected with her perished. She said to herself : 
" Surely I shall keep those who sit on my thighs " — but no, 
even they, the children of her children, were taken from 
her. She became withered with age, and it seemed to her 
that she herself was at last to be taken. But no, a change 
came over her : she grew younger. Then came into her 
heart a desperate resolution to find God and to ask the 
meaning of it all. Somewhere upjthere in the sky must be M 
His dwelling : if only she could reach it ! She began to 
cut down trees, immense trees and tall, joining them together 
and so planting a structure that would reach to heaven. It 
grew and grew, but as it was getting to be as she wanted 
it, the lowest timbers rotted and it fell. She fell with it, 
but without being killed or breaking a bone. She set to 
work again and reared the structure, but once again the 
foundations rotted and it fell. She gave it up in despair, 
but not her intention of finding God. Somewhere on earth 
there must be another way to heaven ! So she began to 
travel, going through country after country — nation after 
nation — always with the thought in her mind : "I shall 



come to where the earth ends, and there where earth and 
sky touch. I shall find a road to God, and I shall ask Him : 
' What have I done to Thee that Thou afflictest me in this 
manner ? ' " She never found where the earth ends, but 
though disappointed she did not give up her search, and as 
she passed through the different countries they asked her, 
" What have you come for, old woman ? " And her answer 
would be, "I am seeking Leza." " Seeking Leza ! For 
what ? " " My brothers, you ask me ! Here in the nations 
is there one who suffers as I have suffered ? " And they 
would ask again, " How have you suffered ? " 'In this 
way. I am alone. As you see me, a solitary old woman : 
that is how I am ! " And they answered again, " Yes, we 
see. That is how you are ! Bereaved of friends and kin- 
dred ? In what do you differ from others ? Shikakunamo 
sits on the back of every one of us, and we cannot shake Him 
off ! " She never obtained her desire : she died of a broken 
heart (yamuyaya inzezela). And from her time to this, 
nobody has ever solved her problem ! 

That is legend. Let us hear what living men say them- 
selves of the Power they dimly discern working in the world. 
We have talked with many old men who had not come 
under the influence of Christian teaching, and will transcribe 
here the actual words of two of them — both intelligent old 

This is Shikanzwa's version : 

Sunu Leza waalaala, waleka To-day Leza has turned over, 

mianza yakwe ya kalekale, sunu and abandoned his old ways. 

To-day he is not the same, he is 
ngunji, udi bunji chinichini, ukuti alt0 gether different, for he is not 

tadi mbu akubele miaka mile, as he was in distant years before 

kabatana kwiza bami batuba. the white .chiefs {i.e. the Euro- 
peans) came. At that time he 
Nakudi Namese chinichini shonse was truly the Water-giver and 

shintu kashichizudile sh'anshi, all things were still sufficient on 

i„h„„~u u u 7. 7 earth as they had been established 

shakasokasoka ku masokelo. . , J . _, T 

from the beginning. Then Leza 

Ledio Leza kachidi mupya. was still fresh (or young or new). 

Anukuti sunu kwina muyoba, Whereas to-day there is no 

. heavy rain, no continued rain 

kwina shoye, shivhulamabwe and nQ great hail . storms< As t 

shinjishinji. Indaba Shikanzwa, am Shikanzwa ! to-day we say : 




sunu tulaamb' ati : Leza wache- 
mbala, waba muntumbano, ubele 
kale. Mbu tuzunga bobo ukuti 
menzhi aza ng'alosha izungwa bn 
misozhi ivhwa u menso a bantu ni 
badila, bit bafumbi aba mupami 
adile nakasozhi kalosha a chamba 
chakwe, mbu tumuzunga. Sunu 
Leza ati udimwi tamwizhi sunn, 
tulaamba, lulazeka, kudi ukazumya 
mutwi, ukakusakulwa, ulabona 
okubonesha shikaba kwa Leza 
nshi akachita bwasunu. Miaka 
yedia katuyene shimuno sha 
mikumo mikumo sha mbono, anu 
sunu, kwina pe, pe. Ngu 
Shatwakwe, shintu shonse nshina- 
kwakwe. Talandwa, taambwa, aze 
tabuzhiwa, takolombwa, tachitilwa 
shonse nshi tuchitila bantunokwesu 
anshi ano, pe. Ulapa kubozha. 
Muzhololosha ngwakwe mwini. 
Kwina mivenje sunu, kwina shi- 
mwenje mukando. Mbu azungwa- 
zungwa bobo, usunu Leza ulasha- 
shitizhiwa. Kalekalc kadi su- 
ngwasungwa kuchitila kabotu, pele 

And Kambunga said : 

Kalekale Ba-ila tibakumwizhi 
Leza makani akwe, pe, pele kaba- 
mwizhi budio ati, ngu akatulenga, 
kutachimwa kwakwe. Leza ubudi- 
sunu mainza mbu akatazha sunu, 
mbuatawi ,intela kai balatamauka, 
ati, Leza watukatazha kutawa. 
Odimwi awisha, ati, Leza wawisha. 

Leza has grown old, he has be- 
come the ancient one, of long ago. 
That is what we suppose, because 
the water which he rains down 
is supposed to be like tears from 
the eyes of men when they weep. 
So it is when one becomes aged, 
when he weeps tears he lets them 
dribble down his chest — and 
that is how we judge Leza to be. 
To-day we say again, we do not 
know Leza now, we speak, we 
imagine there is one who will 
harden his head by being shaven, 
and he will see and see clearly 
what will be from Leza and the 
things which he will do nowa- 
days. In yonder years we found 
wealth of various kinds of pro- 
perty, but to-day there is none 
— no, no. He is Owner-of-his- 
things : all things are his. He 
cannot be charged with an offence, 
cannot be accused, cannot be 
questioned, cannot be claimed 
from : none of the things can be 
done to him which we do to our 
fellow-men on earth. He gives 
and rots. Vengeance is his own. 
There is no flood to-day — no 
great giver of floods. This is 
how he is judged of ; to-day 
Leza is not as he is wanted to be. 
Long ago he was the One who 
could be urged to do well, but 
to-day he has left off being so. 

Long ago the Ba-ila did not 
know Leza as regards his affairs — 
no, all that they knew about him, 
was that he created us, and also 
his unweariedness in doing things. 
As at present when the rainy 
season is annoying and he does 
not fall, why then they ask of 
Leza different things : they say 
now, " Leza annoys us by not 
falling " : then later when he 


Achita impeyo, ati, Leza wachita falls heavily they say, ' Leza 

.. , , . ,. r falls too much." If there is cold 

impeyo. Abala lumwi ah : Leza they „ ^^ makeg it cxM „ 

wabadisha, na kuvhumba-vhumba. and if it is hot they say, " Leza 

Nikubabobo Leza mbwadi Shi- is much too hot let it be over- 

clouded. All the same, Leza as 
ntemwe, kwaamba, mbwadi Shi- he i s the Compassionate, that is 

luse, talemani, taleka kuwa, taleka to say, as he is Merciful, he does ^ ^in&^Z' doesnTgiv/up 
kana, obamuchopa, obamuvwiya, doing them all good — no, whether 

bonsewabachitilakabotushikwense. the Y curse > whether they mock 

him, whether they grumble at 
Mbu bobo mbu bamushoma shi- him> he does good to all at all 

kwense. Kwakudi kubona makani times. That is how they trust 

, . ., , . 7 , . D ., him always. But as for seeing 

akwe shikwense , pe , tabezhi Ba-ila, . ■.■«■• j_-u -d •,„ 

r always his affairs, no, the Ba-ila 

baamba budio, ati, Leza ngu do not know, all they say is : 

shichenchemenwa, ngu natamau- Leza is the good-natured one , ne 

is one from whom you beg differ- 
kilwa. Tu Ba-ila twina ntu ent things _ We Ba-ila have no 

twizhi. more that we know. 

In these native-told accounts, certain epithets are applied 
to Leza which need, and will repay, reconsideration. He is 
called Shikakunamo. Kukunama is to beset any one — to 
cling to, adhere, persecute by unremitting attentions. The 
phrase gives the idea of Leza plaguing the old woman, 
castigating her by killing off herniations. Again he is 
called Sungwasungwa. Kusunga is to stimulate, stir up a 
person to do things, good or bad, by repeated solicitation. 
Long ago, says Shikanzwa, you could get Leza to do what 
you wanted by constant entreaty, but not so to-day. He 
is called Shichenchemenwa. Kuchenchemena (the active form 
of the verb) is to trade on a person's good nature, by asking 
for various things without a sense of shame, which you 
know you have no title to ask for. That is how Leza is 
regarded. He is called also : Natamaukilwa. Kutamauka 
is to be changeable in speech. To tamaukila a person is to 
ask him for something, and when you get it, say, " No, 
that's not what I want, give me something else." So is 
Leza treated by men. When no rain falls they say, " Leza 
you annoy us, give us some rain " ; and when he sends 
plenty of rain they say : " You give too much " ; when he 




(•■ ii ' 

sends cold they want heat ; and when he sends heat, they 
want cold. 

These are epithets that might be applied to any person 
whose character warranted it ; they are different from the 
praise-names, which are peculiarly his. As we have seen in 
another connection, ajgraise-name is descriptive of qualities, 
capacities, possessed or supposed to be possessed by a person. 
What a man's character is, in the opinion of his fellows, may 
be gathered with accuracy from these names. So is it in 
regard to Leza. In no way can be better determined the 
Ba-ila theology than by a study of these praise-names. 

Chilenga x (also Namulenga) " The Creator." The word is 
derived from kulenga, to make, to originate, to be the first 
to do anything — not necessarily to create out of nothing, 
but certainly to produce something that did not exist before. 
The word is sometimes used of men ; for instance, when one 
of us commenced to make bricks the people said of him : 
"Ngu akalenga shitina um Bwila" (" It is he who was the first 
to make bricks in the Ila country.") It is also used in the 
sense of establishing, instituting a custom. By calling Leza 
Chilenga, they mean that He made things and established 
the tribal customs. We were talking in our room one day 
with an old man ; he picked up a beautiful wild-cat skin 
lying on the floor, and with some enthusiasm said, " Who 
but Chilenga could colour a skin like that ? Yes, only He 
who is_aboye. And all these things " — with a wide sweep 
of the arm to indicate the world in general — " He only ! ' 

Lubumba (" the Moulder ") is a title made from the 
common Bantu word kubumba, to mould, shape, as a 
woman moulds her pots (cf . Kongo, Zulu, bumba ; Suto, 
bo pa) . 

Shakapanga (" the Constructor ") is from another com- 
mon root : kupanga, to put together, set in order, construct. 
The verb is not used commonly in Ila to-day, but occurs in 
many other Bantu languages (Lenje, Lala-Lamba, Wisa, 
Bemba, Swahili, Nyanja ; Kongo, Vanga). 

These three titles indicate that Leza is the maker of 

15 * 



1 Among the Awemba Mulenga is said to be the chief mulungu or 
nature spirit distinct from Leza : a benevolent spirit who can grant 
abundant rain. Mlengi is a title given by the Manganja to Chiuta. 






things. If we ask, what things ? the answer is " all." 
Necessarily the "all' of a Central African native is re- 
stricted, but it comprises all that he knows, and the word 
to us could mean no more. 

Mutalabala is a name derived from kutalabala, to be 
age-lasting, to be everywhere and all times, equivalent to 
the phrase, Vina ngaela (" He has nowhere, or nowhen, 
that he comes to an end "). 

Namakungwe is a title said to mean " He from whom 
all things come." The etymology is obscure. Kukungwa 
means to be well-dressed, and if derived from that root the 
name would mean " He (or rather, she) who is well adorned " 
— and might be taken to refer to the beauty of the world as 
the garment of God, but that is doubtful. 

Other names bring Leza into relation with men : Muninde 
(kudinda, to watch, guard), " The Guardian" ; Chaba (kuaba, 
to give, to allot to), " The Giver " ; Ipaokubozha (kupa, to 
give ; kubozha, to rot), " He who gives and causes to rot." 
He gives things, but His gifts are not permanent : fruits 
fall from the trees and decay ; the rainy season passes into 
winter : the corn in the bins is spoilt by weevil, etc. 

Ushatwakwe means " Master, Owner, of his things." 
Leza is not only the master but the owner of all, and the 
ordainer of the fate of all. Life, as an old man said to us 
once, is like a labour ticket that the white men give to 
their workmen ; before your time is up you cannot leave, 
but as soon as it expires you have to go. So Shatwakwe 
disposes of men. When we killed a deadly snake one day, 
a man greeted it by saying, " To-day you are dead ! Killed 
by the white man ! So was it ordered by Shatwakwe that 
you should come and be killed." The name gives expression 
to the_deep underlying fatalism of the Ba-ila. 

Other names have reference to the elements. 

Shakatabwa, " The Faller ' [kutabwa is to fall ; used 
only of the rain : Leza watabwa : rain falls). 

Lubolekamasuko means " He who causes the masuko 
fruit to rot." Mangwe is said to mean " the Flooder " ; 
Shakemba, or Kemba, is said to mean the Rain-Giver ; but 
the etymology is obscure. Namesi is " The Water-Giver." 
(Mesi is an older form of menzhi : water, cf. Yao, mesi.) 




Munamazuba means " He of the suns ' (or " days "). 
Luvhunabaumba : " Deliverer of those in trouble." juK 

Other less familiar titles are : Mukubwe (Kukubula, to 

cut down and destroy) ; Chembwe, said to mean " He who 
takes away till there is only one left " ; Munakasungwe, 
' Leader " (kusungula, to lead) ; Munakachulwe, or Nama- 
chulwe ; Namazwingwe (or Namazungwe) ; Kayuyu ; Mu- 
ndandamina-Kalunga ; x of the last four we have been unable 
to find any meaning. 

These are some of the descriptive tembaula titles applied 
to Leza : Lubombolangulu-maiimbiiswa-nchi-atalana (" Dis- 
solver of ant-heaps, but the maumbuswa ant-hills are too 
much for him"). Wakazuzha-kalambwelambwe, katende-ka- 
nakasha-kamukachila (" He can fill up all the great pits of 
various kinds, but the little footprint of the Oribi he cannot 
fill"). Chaba-wakaaba-ochitadiwa ("The giver who gives 
also what cannot be eaten "). 

These are names commonly applied to Leza. They are 
in no sense esoteric, but may be heard on the lips of any- 
body. It is just possible that some of the obscurer names 
may at one time or another have been of human beings, or 
mizhimo, though now applied only to Leza. We have heard, 
e.g., among the Bambala the name Lukele given to Leza ; 
and He was described as having been the piler-up of the 
Nambala mountains. But it seems that Lukele was at 
some ancient date a human hero. At Lubwe we have heard 
Leza called : Bulongo-Namesi. Bulongo, as we have seen, 
is the arch-demigod of the Ba-ila, probably once a man. If 
we did but know, the same might be true of other names ; 
but at the same time we are certain that in the conscious- 
ness of the Ba-ila at present these names do not imply that 
Leza is the totality of ancient heroes ; nor do they imply 
a recognition of many gods. To conclude that the Ba-ila 
were polytheists on the strength of these titles would be as 
accurate as saying it of the Parsis who are said to have 
a thousand and one names for the Supreme Being. The 
Parsi names, e.g. Purvedegar, the Provider ; Purvurdar, the 

1 We have heard these other names for Leza among the Bambala : 
Nzumaknle ; Mulundumuna ; Mundobwe. The Baluba and Balamba 
have the names Shakapanga ; Mande. 


Protector, etc., are similar to those of the Ba-ila: not names 
of multitudinous deities but praise-names of the one. 

So much for the titles. What in everyday talk do the 
Ba-ila say of Leza? Now, when we say "it rains, it blows," 
grammarians call the word " it " a prop- word ; it remains 
in our language probably as evidence of an ancient belief 
that the sky fell in the form of rain : just as the Greeks 
talked of Zeus raining and afterwards dropped the noun and 
simply said: "it rains." And that is how the Ba-ila speak 
to-day. Where we say " it " they say " Leza." Leza 
wabala (" it is very hot"); Leza ulaunga ("it blows"); 
Leza wawa ("it rains"), literally "Leza falls." When it 
lightens they say : Leza wakalala (" Leza is fierce ") ; when 
it thunders, Leza wandindima (" Leza makes the revet 1 - 
berating sound ndi-ndi-ndi ") . Chandwa-Leza is the name 
given to anything struck by lightning : " that which is 
split by Leza." Leza watikumuna masalo akwc (" Leza is 
beating his rugs ") is another way of describing thunder. 
Leza wazhika mat (" Leza buries eggs ") is another descrip- 
tion of thunder. Just as a crocodile buries its eggs in the 
sand and returns to the spot unerringly, so does the thunder 
return in its season. Leza wabwanga bushiku (" Leza ties 
up the day ") is said of a disappointingly short rainy season. 
Leza wabonzha bushiku (" Leza softens the day ") is said of 
the beginning, and Leza wabusangula bushiku (" Leza 
changes the day ") is said of the end of the rainy season. 
The rainbow is called Buta bwa Leza (" Leza's bow "). In 
regard to a death they may say : Leza wakombola mungo 
wakwe ("Leza snaps off his pumpkin"). The name is 
further used in solemn affirmation : Leza ! ngu Leza ! are 
common oaths. It is used also in cursing : Leza wakuanda 
(" May Leza split you ! "). 

It is not altogether easy to say to what extent these 
names and phrases imply belief in a personal Being. The 
curse just quoted might be the invoking of the wrath of a 
person, or merely calling down lightning. Many of the 
names might very appropriately be applied simply to the 

The rain and the phenomena associated with it are the 
most important, the most striking, the most useful. In 

en. xxiii THE SUPREME BEING : LEZA 205 

the Ila country it is supremely so. From the end of March 
till the end of October not a drop of rain falls. The small I 
rivers either disappear entirely or remain as shrunken, broken 
pools. The water -holes dry up. As winter passes and 
August comes in, the sun grows in power until in the weeks 
preceding the rains the heat is almost unbearable. And 
then in the most impressive manner imaginable the welcome 
clouds gather, the wind suddenly veers round to the west, 
and a great storm passes over the country, heralding the 
incoming of the new season. And what a transformation ! 
A day or two after the storm, nature is wearing a new face. 
Millions of little seedlings are pushing their way through the 
earth. The people have been hoeing their fields, and now 
the work is pressed on. To them, of course, the rain comes 
just at the time when they are wanting it : not that they 
cultivate in preparation for, and at the coming of the rains ; 
but it comes when they cultivate. For months there has 
probably been a scarcity of food ; and the coming of the 
rain is looked forward to eagerly and anxiously. Should 
its coming be delayed, or be scanty, great is the trouble. 

Any one understanding these things, could appreciate at 
once the calling of the rain and thunderstorms by such 
names as Chaba : the giver of all good things ; and Muninde, 
the Guardian of Men ; seeing that it is from them that we 
derive directly all the material blessings we enjoy. And 
those other names are so aptly descriptive of the rain- 
storms that sweep the country : " The rotter of the 
masuko fruit " — the " Flooder." And when a man tells you 
that Leza is Shichenchemenwa (" the good-natured one ") ; 
Shintemwe (" the Compassionate "), you can see he has the 
rain in mind. The rain falls on the evil and the good, the 
just and the unjust : and falls, in greater or less amount, 
with regularity year by year. When it falls they say, " Leza 
falls " ; although they have the common Bantu word for 
rain — imvula (cf. Luba, imvura ; Suto, pula, etc.), yet they 
always speak of the rain as Leza. And the wind is Leza : 
thunder is Leza, the lightning is Leza. That is to say, those 
elements themselves, not any personal being working in and 
through them. To generalise : Leza is the sky and what 
comes from it. 



Such is one's first impression of the Ila theology : but 
two facts must be remembered which correct that impres- 
sion. The names are proper names. In form, Chaba, 
Lubumba, Chilenga, etc., appear to be neuter, but are per- 
sonal really : the use of the pronouns wa and mu — " he ' 
(or she) and " him " (or her) is conclusive of this. Some of 
the names — those beginning with na — are really feminine : 
Namesi would mean, literally, " The mother of Water." 
And, further, the people themselves recognise that the 
water falling to earth is not really Leza, but is water sent 
down by him. Walosha menzhi, they say sometimes, " Leza 
drops water." There is much confusion in the minds of 
many of them, and the way in which they speak some- 
times might lead one to think the contrary, but we have 
never yet met with any one who on being pressed would 
confound the one with the other. It is very likely that 
the metonymical use of " Leza " for rain is a survival from 
a time when the two were actually identified. We can 
think of them revering the elements themselves, then rising 
to the thought of a power behind the elements, and finally 
coming to think of that power as a person. 

There is certainly in these names a personification of the 
powers of nature. But it is clear that the Ba-ila have gone 
a step beyond that and attained to the idea of a personal 
god. There is, of course, a vital distinction between the 
two stages of development. To personify simply means 
that you recognise the thunder, for example, as He instead 
of It. You get then a special god, one whose activities are 
confined strictly to one sphere, that of thundering. If you 
pray to him, or make offerings to him, it is only to avert 
disaster from the thunderbolt : you would not ask his help 
in case of ordinary sickness, for that would be outside his 
sphere of operations. But a personal god exercises a wider 
influence ; if he begins as thunder, he comes to control the 
clouds, to feed his people, to watch over their interests, and 
so become the Father of men. That seems to be how the 
Ba-ila now regard Leza ; not simply as a sky god, but as 
their god ; though sufficient of the old views remains to 
make him in the minds of many little beyond a dispenser 
of the rains. 

ch. xxiii THE SUPREME BEING : LEZA 207 

It is no mere sky god of whom the woman in the legend 
already related went in search, though his home was in the 
space above. And in the aetiological myths we have in- 
dications of a similar kind. In a later section we give the 
tale of how Leza in the beginning gave men grain (see p. 348). 
Here Leza is evidently more than the sun and rain which 
cause fruits and grain to ripen ; in his solicitude for the 
well-being of the people he has placed on earth, he shows 
personal feelings : he provides for them, is grieved at their 
foolishness, and takes steps to repair the damage they have 
done to themselves. 

In the story of Chikambwe- — the blue jay who 
married the daughter of Leza (see p. 347) — Leza is more 
than a sky god. The lightning is the opening of his mouth, 
his voice is the thunder, his sweeping descent is that of the 
tempest or thunderbolt. But he has some relationship to 
men ; he speaks in the imperative, he imposes a taboo, he 
punishes Chikambwe, holding him responsible for her death. 
He is very human in his affection for his daughter : human, 
too, in his desire to avenge her. 

It must be added that the Ba-ila are far from being 
convinced of the benevolence of Leza. He is over all — 
watuvhunikila, they say, " covers us " as the sky above, but 
this is not altogether a comfort. He is mostly regarded as 
an all-powerful Fate, to whom they trace much of the evil 
and sorrow of life. A person who is bereft of his children 
is called mulabile-Leza ("one upon whom Leza has looked"). 

We have been trying to reconstruct for ourselves the 
theology of the Ba-ila. We conclude that they have risen 
to the conception of a being closely related with the pheno- 
mena of the sky, who is also the maker of all things, and 
the guardian of men. Such cognition does not, of course, 
constitute religion, which is primarily a matter of emotion 
— an impulse to enter into mystical communion with the 
Being whose existence is felt in the world around them. 
What is the nature of that communion ? 

We notice, first, the disparateness of Leza from the 
mizhimo. Everybody will admit that the mizhimo were once 
men ; but we have never once heard a suggestion that Leza 



was ever a man, nor is he ever named a muzhimo. He 
stands in a class by himself. It is true that legends assign 
to him a wife and family, but that does not imply his 
humanity, The mizhimo are near to men : they are of the 
same nature, know human life from the inside, realise the 
wants of men ; Leza, on the other hand, is remote and takes 
little or no cognisance of the affairs of individuals. 

Hence there arises a difference in the cult. Many tribes, 
indeed, that acknowledge Leza do not pray to him ; he is 
otiose — too far removed from men to heed them. But the 
Ba-ila do seek to come into touch with him. They regard 
the mizhimo as intermediaries between themselves and Leza ; 
but on occasion they address him directly. They say (with 
no irreverence) " matwi akwe malamfu" ("his ears are long "), 
i.e. he can hear even words whispered in secret. But Leza 
has no ikubi as the great mizhimo have ; there is no in- 
dividual who periodically summons the people to sacrifice 
to him. Generally speaking, it is only on occasions of 
special need, when the help of lesser beings is of no avail, 
that they seek him. 

As might be expected, it is in time of drought that the 
help of Leza is much sought after. In the proceedings now 
to be described, it will be seen how dynamistic and religious 
conceptions may be combined. The prayers are a definitely 
religious act, but the rain-making process is as definitely 
dynamistic in character. They not only pray, but employ 
the mysterious powers in misamo to compel the rain to 

When there is a drought, the people repair first of all to 
the musonzhi — the diviner. After consulting his oracles, he 
informs them perhaps that a certain muzhimo is preventing 
the rain from falling and bids them go and make him an 
offering. Or he may announce that there is no obstacle on 
the part of any mizhimo : in that case they are at a loss. 
Then appears another functionary — the mushinshimi, the 
prophet or prophetess. With all the people kneeling in a 
circle around him, clapping their hands, he works himself 
up into an ecstasy. Presently he delivers his message, 
which may be of drought, famine, or only of delayed rains. 




He orders them to build one or two prayer-huts, to pray 
and go through the rain-making ceremonies (kupuka). In 
probably every chishi there is a person or more who has the 
ability to puka. His services are now called into requisi- 
tion. Taking a pot he puts into it some roots of the Muti- 
mbavhula tree and some water. Then holding a small forked 
stick between the palms of his two hands he twirls it round 
in the liquid, producing froth (iovhu) . Some of this froth he 
throws in all directions, the idea being that it will collect the 
clouds. Then another kind of medicine is burnt, and throws 
up a dense smoke which is supposed to have some con- 
nection with clouds. The ashes are put into a pot of water, 
so that the water becomes very black — another reference to 
black clouds. Then he once again twirls his stick (lupusho) 
in this mixture — to gather the clouds. As the wind brings 
up clouds, so will the movement of his lupusho. All the 
time this is going on the people are singing and invoking 
the praise-names of Leza. One refrain is : 

T ue )i dele muyoba, Leza, kowa ! 
" Come to us with a continued rain, O Leza, fall ! 

4oA - 

When the operation is completed, the medicine is poured 
on the ground, the pot is covered and left there by the 
little huts. 

When rain first falls, they do not work for two or three 
days : nobody makes any attempt to hoe. This is an act 
of reverence towards Leza. They say : " Mutayasi iyamba, 
mutayasi menzhi akwe, mushu akwe " (" Do not wound (him) 
with a hoe, do not wound his water, his urine "). 

Here is an account given to us by a native at Nanzela 
of prayer offered to Leza by a party of hunters : 

" Again they pray also to Leza, Muninde (" The Guard- 

"). When they go into the forest hunting and stay 
there many days without success, they build a shed, and in 
the evening find out whether any of the company is able to 
divine. They inquire of him what divinity it is that keeps 
them from killing, and maybe he finds it is Leza himself. 
' What are we to do now ? ' they ask, and he replies, ' Let 
us go out of the shed and sweep a clear space outside.' 

vol. 11 p 




They do this, and then with all their things assemble at 
that clear space. The eldest of them takes his place in the 
centre, with all the others sitting round, and begins to 
pray : ' O Mutalabala, Eternal One, if it be Thou that 
keepest us from killing animals, why is it ? We pray Thee, 
let us kill to-day before the sunset.' When the elder has 
finished his prayer, all fall to the ground and cry : ' O 
Chief, to-day let us kill.' Then they break up and go to 
the shed to rest awhile. In the afternoon late they separate 
and hunt. One kills an animal and at once calls his fellows, 
and they clap their hands. One cuts off bits of meat and 
makes an offering, throwing a piece in the air and saying : 
' I thank Thee for the meat which Thou givest me. To- 
day Thou hast stood by me/ They clap their hands. 
Then they take the meat to the space cleared for Leza. 
The oldest man arises, cuts off bits of meat and makes an 
offering, saying : ' Chief, here is some of the meat Thou 
hast given us. We are very grateful.' Then he throws 
the morsels of meat into the air, and offers again between 
the horns of the beast. Then they shuwelela — utter the 
shrill greeting and divide the meat. They say : ' Who 
gave us the meat ? It was Leza who gave it to us, not a 
divinity.' " 

There are cases of sickness when, after praying in vain 
to the divinities, direct access is sought to Leza. The head 
of the household fills a lukoma with meal and water, and 
pours some of it on the ground on the right side of the 
threshold and prays like this : " Leza ndakukomba na ndiwe 
wdsasha wezu mukwesu, muleke adiendele muzhik' ako. No 
nu wakamulenga anshi ano waamba akeende, akanshome, 
muleke mwanako, akakushoma. Mutalabala twakukomba, 
ndiwe mwami mukando." (" Leza, I pray Thee. If it be 
Thou who hast made our brother sick, leave him alone, 
that Thy slave may go about by himself. Was it not Thou 
who createdst him on the earth and said he should walk and 
trust Thee ? Leave Thy child, that he may trust Thee, 
Eternal One ! We pray to Thee — Thou art the great 
Chief ! "). 

He then fills his mouth with water and squirts some out 
as an offering. 

ch. xxiii THE SUPREME BEING : LEZA 211 

We have mentioned, too, that access is sought to Leza 
when offspring is desired. 

In the early morning, when a man smokes his pipe for 
the first time that day, he may blow some smoke into the 
air as an offering and say : " Mwami, wambusha kabotu. 
Muntu owakunditaya, muzovu owa kuwula, chibosha nda- 
bweza chinyama " (" Chief, Thou hast caused me to rise 
in health. A man who shall ditaya me, an elephant who 
shall be found dead — it is good that I should take such a 
great thing " i.e. " give me happy fortune to-day ! "). 

When, in travelling, a Mwila arrives at a river, he some- 
times takes the opportunity of offering a sacrifice. Filling 
his mouth with water, he squirts some of it on the ground 
and says this, or something like it : " Ndiwe unyenzha. 
Inzho koko nkwinja nkazhoke cholwe chako uwe Leza. 
Koya bu nyembela kabotu, Shimatwangangu " ("It is Thou 
who leadest me. Now may I return with Thy prosperity 
from the place where I am going, O Leza ! Go on shepherd- 
ing me well, my Master ! "). 

We have seen that Leza is regarded as having founded 
many of the customs, and that certain laws or regulations 
are said to be shifundo shaka Leza (" God's prohibitions "). 
But too much must not be made of that. The relation 
between Leza and men is not to be described as ethical. 
He has no title of Judge. It is true that at times when 
they see a circle around the moon the Ba-ila will say : " To- 
day there is a lubeta above " (Kudi lubeta kwizeulu), using 
the word describing the meeting of the chiefs and people to 
try a case. But this is no more than a picturesque description 
to-day, whatever it may once have meant. That Leza 
should take cognisance of all the doings of men, and regard 
them with approval or disapproval, is an idea quite foreign 
to their minds. In all their invocations of Leza there is 
no confession of sin. Indeed we have never met with the 
idea of sin against Leza except in one instance. That is 
in connection with the luloa or blood-offering made on 
account of a murder. As we have seen already (p. 187), 
among the cattle paid as a fine, one or two are offered to 
the communal demigod. We once amused an old man 


by asking whether in such a case Shimunenga would eat 
the ox offered to him. " No," said he, " we eat the 
ox. Shimunenga takes the chingvhule (the shadow- soul)." 
The offering is made to him as the head of the community, 
for in killing one of his men a crime has been committed 
against him. But that is not all. They have the idea that 
Shimunenga is in some degree responsible to Leza for the 
lives of the community, and should any one be slain he 
(Shimunenga) is in fault to Leza. Hence they say Shimunenga 
takes the chingvhule of the ox and conveys it to Leza as a 
propitiation. The old man went through the action of 
Shimunenga approaching Leza with the offering in his hand. 






i. Reckoning Time 

The Ila word chindi means " space, period," and chidingo, 
a definite point of time. As the people have no clocks 
and no calendars, one is prepared to find much vagueness 
in their expressions. 

The day-period of twenty-four hours is called bushiku, 


xx. >T^ x, 

0^2/ Buzuba W* 

(sunset) Diebila I i -| D.apasa f swmej 

Mangolezhal j *fxmo.f unio 

IgggS^ \ MASflIKU /I^Xt^^cro^ 


Diagram of Time Reckoning. 

a term which is also applied specifically to the time of 
dawn. The bushiku is reckoned from one sunset to another. 



One plural form of the word, inshiku, means " days," the 
other, mashiku, is " night." Mashiku aza (" this night ") 
is the night coming ; mashiku adia (" yonder night ") is 
the one passed. The period of daytime is called buzuba 
(from izuba, sun), or munza, a term applied specifically 
to the forenoon. The mode of dividing the bushiku may 
be seen from the diagram on the preceding page. Many 
of the names indicate what is done about that time. 
Thus, muvhwang ombe is when the cattle go out to 
graze ; munjilang'ombe, when the cattle return in the 
afternoon ; akabonzhabeembezhi is the time in the early 
afternoon when the herdsmen begin to get weary ; ama- 
ladidilo is when the last meal is eaten (kuladila), and 
achizhizho the time for which food is prepared (kuzhia, to 
grind meal). Other names trace the course of the sun : 
diapasa (" sunrise ") ; akalendebwe (" when the sun rests on 
the fontanelle "), amutwikati (" when it is on the middle 
of the head "), diakumbo (" when the sun declines," 
kukomboka), diaungaunga (" when it gets a bit cool "), 
diasubidizha (" when the sky reddens "), diavhuma (" when 
the sun is diminishing "). When speaking of time, a Mwila 
points to the position of the sun in the sky ; thus he will 
say, " We will arrive when the sun is so high," and point. 

There was no division of the month into weeks, but 
they are learning it from Europeans. Sunday is named 
by a corruption of the English word, nsunda, which is also 
applied to " week." For Saturday and Monday they have 
taken Tebele words learnt at the mines : imbelekelo (" the 
end of work "), and mushimbuluko (" the opening day "). 

The year, mwaka, is a very indefinite period. In common 
speech ku mwaka means the spring, or the point when the 
old year merges into the new ; others speak of the mwaka 
as the six months from October to March, i.e. covering 
the sowing, weeding, and early harvest seasons. Yet they 
recognise the cycle of the year, and say mwaka wazhinguka 
(" the year has revolved, has come round "). The number 
of months in a year is not a thing they think about, and 
we have never met a man who could say off-hand how 
many there are. Even when you ask them to give you the 
succession of the months, some will give ten, some twelve, 


and some thirteen names ; and no two of the lists we have 
written down agree. 

By months we mean, of course, moons (miezhi). The 
Ba-ila reckon from the first appearance of the moon to its 
disappearance, and the dark interval is inshiku sha ntatano 
(•" the in-between days "). The new moon is mwezhi 
mucheche (" the infant moon ") ; and at the full it is 
called mwezhi uzhuka ( ' the moon which comes out of the 
ground"). Chonancheche (" when the children sleep ") and 
chonankando ("when the elders sleep") are terms applied 
respectively to the full and waning moon. 

Reckoning the year from about the time of the ap- 
pearance of the Pleiades, there are three seasons : Chidimo, 
(" the cultivation-period "), i.e. spring ; mainza (" the rainy 
season "), and mweto (" winter "). Kunkosoko is a name given 
to the change of season, as from chidimo to mainza, mainza to 
mweto, and mweto to chidimo. The following is a list of the 
moons in as accurate a succession as we can determine : 

1 Kavhumbi kashonto — the time of new grass and leaves. 
Chidimo -J Ivhumbi ikando — the time of full grass and leaves. 
I Shimwenje — when the rains are fully developed. 

Kukazhi — the women's month, i.e. when they are busy 
( Knyoba — the time of continued rain. 
\K11lumi — the men's month, when they hunt. 
Itaano — "pass here" literally; i.e. come and get food : 
there is plenty. 
iChisangule — the time of change, i.e. the rains are 

yChibuantimba — the time of little rain. 
I nkombolabulezhi — the breaking of the Pleiades. 

Ikonaula masanga — breaking of the long grass. 
I Kazhalakonze — when the hartebeeste calves. 
I Kaabanino — change in the season, beginning to get 

Kapukupnku — the time of much wind. 

Katente kashonto — the time of the first veld fires. 

Kasangabimbe — when the bimbe bird appears. 

Katu — the shooting of the first leaves. 

Mainza < 



Several of the " moons ' have more than one name. 
But none of these names is constant. With us January 
is always January, and June, June : but, as the Ba-ila name 


the moons according as to what is done at the time, if the 
season is retarded, or hastened, the name varies accordingly. 

2. Ideas about the World 

The creation of all things is, as we have seen, ascribed 
to Leza. The blue arch of heaven they call Izeulu ; 
some speak of it as a solid thing, others confess they do 
not know what it is. The earth they think of as flat, 
and somewhere on the far horizon is where earth and sky 
meet. Somewhere in the east, on that bordering line, 
they say, is the home of the Bashikampinukila — a race of 
dwarfs of whom their forefathers told them : men about 
two feet high, living in holes in the earth. When you 
visit them and inquire about your sleeping-place they point 
to crevices in the rocks, or say, " vhungulula ibolo diako, 
none mo ' (" loosen out your scrotum and sleep in its 
shade"). But nobody has seen them: their existence is 
only a tradition. 

The sun is called izuba. It is to some extent per- 
sonalised by the name Chisowa (" Mr. Disperser "), whose 
rising is the signal for men and women to go about their 
daily work. The sun, said Sir W. Scott, " is every wretched 
labourer's day lantern — it comes glaring yonder out of 
the east, to summon up a whole world to labour and to 

When the sun appears above the horizon a man ex- 
pectorates on the ground as an offering, " Tsu ! Wavhwa 
chisowa " (" Mr. Disperser has emerged "). This is to avert 
ill-luck and give him good fortune during the day. They 
have the idea that the sun, after declining in the west, 
comes back to the east at dawn, leaping across from 
stump to stump on the earth. Nobody sees it ; indeed 
to see it would be malweza — and death. Eclipses of the 
sun are regarded with fear ; they speak of the sun as 
rotting away (kubola) ; as dying and rising again 
(kubukuluka) . 

The moon is mwezhi, and every month they think a 
new and different moon appears. When it is first de- 
scried, a person takes a piece of charcoal (kashimbi) in his 




hand, waves it round his head, and throws it towards the 
west. This is kudikusha malweza, to remove ill-luck from 
himself. In its early days the moon is tonda : the ill-luck 
attached to it has not yet been thrown away. When six 
days have passed, and it has reached its first quarter, 
the ill-luck has gone, and the people dance in joy. A 
tale tells how Sulwe, the hare, got up into the moon ; he 
is still to be seen there. 

Remarkably little attention is paid to the stars 
(intongwezhi). When one thinks of the magnificently 
brilliant nights and their habits of sitting around the even- 
ing camp-fires, one wonders that they should not have 
figured out constellations and formed myths of the stars. 
We have many times drawn their attention to the stars 
and tried to get their names, but without success. It is 
not reckoned taboo to attempt to count the stars, but any 
one who should try it would be laughed at as a fool. The 
only planet they name is Venus ; but, not knowing that 
she appears as the evening and as the morning star, they 
give her two names. Because Venus is often seen very 
near the moon in the evening she is named Mukamwezhi 
(" the moon's wife ") ; or she is named Inangabadya (" seen 
of the eaters "). As the morning star Venus is Intanda, and 
plays a considerable part in their life, for her rising is 
bwacha (" the dawn "), and is the signal for travellers and 
hunters to rise and go about their business. 

The Milky Way is named Midalabungu, from some 
fancied resemblance to the hair on a person's chest. 

The only constellation named is Bulezhi (the Pleiades, 
' the shewer "), so called because it indicates the beginning 
of the new year and the time to begin cultivating. 

We have heard the stars spoken of as the eyes of Leza. 

A falling star is named itanda ; and they say of it, 
not that it falls, but diakosoka (" it is cut off "). When 
seen it is greeted with curses ; a man spits violently on 
the ground in the direction it is falling: " Thu ! " he 
says, " may the people in that direction come to an end ! " 
But this means little or nothing. 

In May 1910 we saw Halley's Comet. The people made 
little comment upon it, and did not seem to take much 



notice. Four years afterwards we had some difficulty in 
recalling it to their memory. Perhaps there is some notion 
we have not discovered which forbade their noticing it, 
or remembering it ; otherwise, it is certainly remarkable 
that the most glorious celestial phenomenon we have ever 
witnessed should have made so little impression. When 
we afterwards heard of King Edward's death and spoke of 
it to Mungaila, he at once connected it with the Comet. 

The rainbow is named buta bwa Leza (" Leza's bow "). 
They have the curious idea that just below where the bow 
touches earth there is a very fierce goat-ram, which burns 
like fire. When the bow is very brilliant they take a pestle 
(munsha) and point it to the bow, without speaking, to 
drive it away ; for they think it prevents rain from falling. 

Their ideas of lightning and thunder have already been 
illustrated when speaking of Leza. Lightning (lulabo) is 
said to be the wide-opening (kulaba) of Leza's mouth ; 
it is also spoken of as the quick, fierce glance of his eyes. 
Things struck by lightning are not specially regarded, 
except that a portion of a tree that has been struck is burnt 
and the ashes mingled with the ash from a tree named 
Mwande Leza (" struck by Leza "), mixed with fat, and 
forced down the throat of an ox or cow ; this is to ensure 
the beast wasting away and dying if ever it is acquired by 
the owner's opponent in a lawsuit. 

Thunder (makadi) seems to frighten them more than 
lightning. When it thunders you will hear a man shouting 
to the sky: " Kowa budio, tulalanga menzhi ; twina kambo 
o muntu ; ukwete kambo o mwenzhina makani akwe mwini ' 
(" Please simply fall, we want water. We have not 
offended any one ; if any one has offended his friend it is 
his own affair, not ours "). This is to disansulwila, to 
defend himself against any possible evil results of the 
thunderstorm ; as he is innocent, he does not deserve to 
die. A person will also pray in the presence of thunder 
and say : ' Tubantu tulaamba, okuvhuya, uamba buti ; 
utababiki ku mozo, bape budio menzhi " (" We people talk 
and complain and speak all sorts of things ; do not put 
them in your heart (i.e. do not cherish resentment against 
them), but simply give them water "). 


The rain (leza, imvula) is thought to be sent by Leza ; 
some say, through small holes in the vault of heaven. The 
rain may be prevented from falling by those who have 
the proper medicine and released by others with more 
powerful stuff. 

The hail is called chivhulamdbwe (" abundance of 
stone ") ; if it falls during the season, they take it as a 
sign of cheyo (" an abundant harvest ") ; if the stones 
are very big, it is the maize that will be plentiful ; if small, 
the sorghum. 

Water is menzhi, a plural term. It is reckoned taboo 
to drink water in the early morning unless one has first 
expectorated as an offering ; for you may have had the 
company of a ghost during the night, and it is right to 
offer him something, or he may be vengeful. When cross- 
ing a stream it is the custom to bathe and cook on the 
farther side, not on this side ; the idea being that some- 
body may be drowned, and it is better to get the crossing 
over first before refreshing yourselves. Streams are, as 
we have seen, often regarded as being occupied by ghosts 
in the form of monsters. 

The wind is called mnwo ; they do not know its nature, 
it is a mysterious thing, to be identified with the breath 
of a person, and the ghosts. They have names for winds. 
The cool wind of the rainy season is katengezhi ; the 
burning wind of October is ikasazhu. The whirlwind is 
named kambizhi, and also shikwidikwikwi. Some fancy 
it to be a cock with a long tail. When they see it coming 
towards them, one stretches out his left arm, and points 
with his little finger, moving it slowly round in the direc- 
tion in which they wish it to go. Or they point with a 
pestle (munsha). If, notwithstanding this, it whirls the 
grass off a roof, the owner consults the diviner, for he 
concludes it to be no mere whirlwind but katumwa (" one 
sent " by an evil-wisher). If it assaults a person himself, 
he spits as a curse : " Thu ! Bidozhi bwako twakabona ; 
ndiwe nini" ("We see your witchcraft. You are so-and- 
so "). This averts the evil. 

Earthquakes are a very rare occurence in the Bwila. 
On May 28, 1910, there was a slight shock, lasting about 


thirty seconds. It was in the morning as we had finished 
dressing ; we heard, or felt, it coming from the west and 
wondered what it could be ; then we felt the tremors 
beneath our feet, and felt it passing east. Two miles in 
that direction are the Mala villages, and as the shock 
reached them we could hear the shrieks from the people. 
They called it mududumo (" the rumbling "). Some ascribed 
the shaking of the earth to Leza, others to the white men ; 
all agreed it was a tremendous portent. Old men told us 
they had heard from their fathers of a very violent earth- 
quake, when the ground opened and swallowed villages. 
They gave us a fragment of an old song which celebrated 
the event. A dearth of ground-nuts the next year was 
attributed to the earthquake. 

The metals known to the Ba-ila were only two — iron 
and copper. Brass came later in the form of thick wire 
introduced by traders. Even now, when they have had 
money for some years, they have no idea of the value 
of gold and silver, and have formed no names for them. 
They know that the mines produce gold for making 
money, but do not appreciate its value when not coined ; 
a gold ring being no more in their eyes than a brass one. 

The Ba-ila have well-known names for the points of 
the compass : Kwiwe is the east (" at the rising ") ; kumbo, 
the west (" at the setting ") ; north is kumbala ; south is 
kububizhi (" to the Butonga country ") or kumpusu. 

But the Ba-ila are not a travelling people, and therefore 
have very little knowledge of countries around them. In 
fact, many of them know little about their own country 
outside their immediate neighbourhood, for until recent 
years they mostly remained at home. One does, however, 
meet great travellers even here, such men as were taken 
captive by the Makololo in their youth, and afterwards 
accompanied their captors on their expeditions. Old 
Mukubu, for example, can tell of travelling with Living- 
stone, the discovery of the Victoria Falls, and the journey 
to the west coast, of the raid to the upper Kafue by the 
Makololo, etc. Another old man told us of a year's journey, 
during which he visited Kanyemba, the Chikundi chief in 
Portugese territory south of the Zambesi. Such men have 


some idea of surrounding people, but even their knowledge 
is not extensive. In later years many adventurous spirits 
have gone to labour at the mines in Southern Rhodesia, 
and a few farther, to Katanga in the Congo Beige, and 
even to Kimberley. But they return with hazy notions 
of those countries. In Kimberley, e.g., which they call 
Deemani, they think, some of them, that the white people 
dig for big white things like impande. We have told 
them of our country, but they cannot, of course, realise 
it. We have shown them pictures of houses taller than 
their highest trees — taller than three or four trees on end ; 
but all such wonders are received incredulously ; they 
only pity the narrator as a clumsy liar: 

Kumbulawayo (" at Bulawayo ") is the Ultima Thule 
of most Ba-ila, and they think all white people come from 
there. When European traders and hunters began to 
visit the Bwila, we were solemnly asked whether Bulawayo 
was being deserted. 

They have ideas of the sea derived ultimately, it seems, 
from the early Mambari traders from the west coast. They 
suppose that all European merchandise is thrown up out 
of the " big water ' by monsters — some think they are 
men who have been transformed by the magic of white 
men to work for them under the sea — and traders pick 
it off the shore and sell it. So easily procured and 
yet so hardly obtained by them in exchange for their 
precious cattle and grain ! They think we white people 
are very selfish. 

3. Ideas about the Animals and Plants 

When we turn to the Ba-ila knowledge of the animal 
kingdom, whose representatives are so numerous around 
them, we are struck equally by their shrewd observations 
and by their ignorance. They have accurately observed 
many habits of the animals, but there comes quickly a 
point at which they go wrong. Their notions are interesting, 
not because of their scientific importance, but largely be- 
cause of their fantastic nature. Many of them have been 
already mentioned, others will be described in connection 


with the tales : a few of a miscellaneous character regarding 

insects and reptiles may be introduced here. This is their 

classification : 

Banyama : quadrupeds. 

Bapuka : creeping things, reptiles. 

Tupuka : insects. 

Bazune : birds. 

Inswi : fish. 

The banyama are divided roughly into hoofed animals : 
obadi nfumba ; and bachele, soft-footed animals with 
shituta (" noiseless feet "). But lions, leopards, and cheetahs 
are not included in the latter subclass. 

Among the Annelida they name the leech (musundu). 
They speak of the leech getting into an elephant's trunk 
and thence into the brain, and so torturing the huge beast 
that it commits suicide in vain attempts to free itself of its 
tormentor. Because of its " sticking " quality the leech 
is made into " medicine " to prevent women rebelling and 
running away, and also to prevent riches from vanishing. 

Among the Myriapoda, the shongolwe (" millipede ") 
is a very familiar object in the rainy season, winding about 
on the ground, much as one imagines a train would appear 
to a man from a balloon. The Ba-ila have a dread of the 
innocent creature, because, they say, long ago it entered 
the vulva of a woman and she died. They take it up on 
a stick and throw it and the stick away so that it may 
not return ; and if any one should bring a shongolwe to 
a house, the owner would give him things and salute him 
humbly by clapping hands and then throw it away. Hence 
the proverbial expression, used by a person repenting of 
a wrong action : Sh'enda dinji kodia, ndapanga ko, ndasowa 
ko chongolwe (" I won't go in that direction again ; I have 
deserted it ; I have thrown shongolwe there "). 

Of the Arachnida, the scorpion is named kapididi or 
kabanzi ; the centipede, ilumabanduwe, also shimukosola- 
mukongo (" the cutter of the clitoris "). They dread the 
sting of these. 

Spiders are of many kinds, but we only know two 
named by the Ba-ila. One is the shilubidila, which makes 
its circular white silky nest (namundelele) on the hut wall — 


used to give resonance to the Budimba — and the other is the 
shilutangatanga, which weaves its web from tree to tree, 
from grass to grass. These are lucky things to the hunters, 
for if they find them on their gun they know they will be 
successful in killing. 

They name two varieties of tick : the ordinary one 
which is found on dogs and cattle is called malumabatolo 
(" the biter of the lazy "), because only lazy people would 
refrain from picking it off themselves ; and the insengele, 
which, they say, if it keeps its grip on one's head, will 
cause baldness. 

Itch (bwele) is a common disease, but they do not know 
it is caused by a minute insect. 

The inkofu is a kind of bug which infests many houses 
and whose bite may make you feel very sick. They say 
that if you are bitten by inkofu imishi, a pregnant bug, 
you will swell up. 

Of the Orthoptera, locusts have in past years done 
considerable damage to crops among the Ba-ila : we have 
not seen them in swarms during the last twelve years. 
The swarming kind is named chikwikwi or chisozhi ; the 
voetganger, shinchuta. Locusts are eaten, roasted, with 
salt, in an earthenware pot on the fire. 

The Mantis is named namutekamenzhi (" drawer of 
water ") or lulukwati. Women drawing water are careful 
not to kill one, or their pots would break. 

There are numerous stick-insects, whose appearance 
can with difficulty be distinguished from twigs and grass ; 
but the Ba-ila do not seem to pay attention to them. 

Lice are named injina. They infest the houses. 

Of the Neuroptera, the house-fly is called inzhi ; the 
hippo-fly mazhimbwa. There is a fly which inserts an egg 
under a person's skin, where it becomes a worm ; we have 
taken a dozen out of a European, and some out of ourselves ; 
but the Ba-ila do not seem to be aware that it is a fly that 
deposits the egg. They think the worms simply appear ; 
they say they are not troubled by them, and if any one 
gets them he is very unlucky and will die. 

Mosquitoes are mamwe. There are several kinds : both 
culex and anopheles. Surely no country in the world can 



produce more mosquitoes than the Kafue valley during 
the greater part of the year. They are a great nuisance 
to the natives, who, though ignorant of the connection 
between the anopheles and malaria, try to protect them- 
selves from them. They have an aromatic plant called 
Muvhumbane, which they say drives mosquitoes from their 
houses, but, judging by their complaints of sleepless nights, 
it is not very efficacious. 

Fleas are called imbwenjina. They wrongly imagine 
it is an ordinary flea which burrows into the skin and 
produces the chigoes (maundu). Only recently introduced, 
the chigoe for a year or two was quite a scourge at Kasenga, 
but it seems to have disappeared again. If fireflies 
(kamweshimweshi) are caught in the evening and placed 
under one of the clay cones of the fireplace, next day there 
will be heavy rain. 

Dragon-flies have the name shimukundanchela ; ' they 
say that if one sits on an inchela (the earthen spout of 
the blacksmith's bellows), it dies. 

Termites of two kinds infest the Bwila.: one, a small 
kind, is lumoma ; the other, a large variety, is mulanzhi. 
Some people eat, and find nice, the earth of which the 
termites make their tunnels. In the flying stage they are 
called inswa, and are eaten. 

There are many kinds of ants. The busulubi is the 
vicious little beast that drives you out of your home and 
eats up every living thing in it, that kills fowls, and even, 
it is said, calves. Shimwenzhalubilo is a black biting-ant. 
Manjenji is a large kind that bites grass. Bumbuswa is a 
small ant that makes mounds ; its larvae are eaten by 

Of the Lepidoptera, butterflies are named inkongolokwa ; 
moths, mampempe. They do not know that a butterfly 
develops from a caterpillar. There are many caterpillars : 
one is shichisuntaboza, a hairy kind found on trees, which 
causes intense irritation if you come in contact with it. 
Inzala is another kind. 

Beetles are in great variety. There is the borer (shika- 
busumpwe) which drills holes in all one's woodwork. The 
ing ombemuka is a kind that we have seen tied alive into 


a man's hair ; some say it is with the object of killing 
lice, others that it makes buyebuye, scratching movements, 
which are very refreshing ! 

Kankontyontyo is the cicada, whose " voice " is heard 
in the early spring heralding the rains. 

Chitolamatuzi (or shafumbula) is the scarab beetle, whose 
indefatigable energy in pushing balls of dung is the admira- 
tion of travellers. 

N amudilakushobwa is a beetle found in the hard bark 
of trees : it has a rough back (tuyabizhi). A piece of the 
bark containing the beetle is stored in a calabash and the 
beetle is used, alive, to rub the gums of a teething child 
to facilitate the cutting of the teeth. 

Of the Hymenoptera, the Ba-ila name two wasps — 
mangvhu and malurnansha— which build their nests on 
palm bushes and trees, and whose sting is very painful : 
the latter is said to be capable of stinging a reedbuck to 
death. The mason-wasp, namuzhingididi , figures in folk- 
lore as the fire bringer (see p. 345). 

There are two kinds of bees. Inzuki makes its nest in 
the hollows of trees, whence it is smoked out and robbed 
by the Ba-ila, guided by the honeybird. They divide the 
bees into bachende (" males ") which make a dark-coloured 
honey which they call kansama, and which is taboo to 
children ; and the inzhazhi (" females ") which make the , 
ordinary honey (buchi). That which the bees extract from 
flowers they call buluba, but do not know exactly what it is. 
The larvae, rnana, are eaten ; and are taboo only to those 
who have an aversion from them. The wax is used in 
mending calabashes, and is put on arrows and the cupping 
horn. It is also used in a kind of divination ; if some one 
is suspected as a thief, a lump of wax is held over a flame, 
and as it melts and drops, he is named, and if the wax 
burns he is guilty, if not, not. The honeycomb, mankanza, 
is chewed. 

The other bee — named bwanshi, or shikangulwe, makes 
its nest in a chamber under the ground. The honey (called 
by the same name as the bee) is said to be very nice indeed. 
It is not often one finds these nests : only those with good 
luck, or the necessary medicine, do so. 


Of the Mollusca — the mussel (?) found in the rivers is 
called Iwidi : sometimes, they say, a pearl is found in it. 
Snails are inkolakola ; their shells are used to pour medicine 
into the ear. Neither is eaten. 

There are three frogs : the ordinary one, kabombwe, 
found in the pools ; mazhibongo, a huge kind, and ka- 
ngvhungvhwe, turned up out of the ground in cultivation. 
This latter characteristic is celebrated in its praise-titles : 
Shamanungo, Kanyama ok'ona mwivhu. From the frog is 
made medicine administered to cattle, which will ensure their 
swelling up and bursting if taken from their owner ; and 
also medicine to render warriors invisible. 

Tadpoles, balube, are said to metamorphose into barbel 
fish (babondo). 

Crabs (inkala) are eaten. 

Among Reptilia the Ba-ila name four kinds of lizards : 
Intombela, bulube, shachikanka and sosolwe, the last of 
which they say is mukadi (" fierce ") when in its bwina 
(" burrow "), and bites. 

The chameleon, nanundwe, is dreaded : they fear its 
bite ; and they hate it as the cause of death being in the 
world (see p. ioo). 

Four kinds of tortoises are named : Fulwe and inkaka 
— water tortoises ; kalalamina and shichanga, land tor- 
toises. Fulwe is a prominent figure in folk-tales. 

Snakes (the generic name is inzoka) are much dreaded 
by the Ba-ila, who almost invariably describe every one as 
dangerous. They name many kinds. Of the puff-adder, 
chipile, the fat lazy snake that lies in one's way and whose 
bite is death, they say that if you tread on it it does not 
bite, but only if you step over it. In the latter case, the 
snake feels insulted : they imagine it to say : ' I am re- 
garded as an insignificant thing and despised," and to bite 
in revenge. Whereas if you tread on it, it feels flattered by 
your attention, and so merely hisses its gratification. 

Of chisambwe, another poisonous kind, they say that a 
person bitten by it will surely defaecate and then die : 
whence the name. 

The ingongoki is a rare snake : we have seen only the one 
shot at night by Captain Lynch. To see it is a good omen ; 


others say it is a bad omen. It is a prettily marked snake, 
with its scales pricked out with white in the centre and 
turning to a greyish blue towards the edges. The ridge on 
the back is very peculiar — very hard and bony and marked 
by a series of white horny scales. The head of this specimen 
was shot away. It is said to be purely nocturnal in its 
habits, going to earth during the day. 

The shimakoma is a cobra with the unpleasant habit of 
spitting at one's eyes. 

The shibudikila is a short dark-coloured snake thought 
by the Ba-ila to have two heads. Its name is used as an 
idiom " to come suddenly." It is regarded as bad luck to 
see it. 

Chidingadinga is a small snake with a blunt tail. Said 
to be tonda, to see it means ill-luck, not to oneself but to 
one's friends and relations. It is called the mwenzhina 
(" the fellow ") of shibudikila. 

There are other snakes whose real existence is believed 
in by the Ba-ila, but which we prefer to call fabulous, because 
of their extravagant descriptions which we have never been 
able to verify. 

Such is ikonkola — a huge snake two hundred yards long, 
which leaps over trees : in colour red and black mixed. 
Shapela, one of the chiefs, says he has seen it. A person 
would go carrying on his head a huge pot full of medicine ; 
the snake always aims at one's head from a tree, so it would 
strike the medicine and die. 

Another such beast is mulala — which we call a dragon 
(see our note on p. 380). Riding across the veld one misty 
morning we asked our groom if he had ever seen one : 
promptly he replied : " Yes, I saw one yesterday when the 
horse was grazing just over there ! " 

The Ba-ila name a great many trees, plants, and grasses. 
Trees have the generic name masamo ; bushes are shivhuna ; 
grass is mani ; leaves eaten as vegetables are shishu. Under 
each of these heads we could give a long list of names, but 
they would serve no useful purpose : we have already men- 
tioned many of those that are eaten and used as medicines. 
Of trees we have seventy and of grasses twenty-four names ; 
and there are others we do not know. 


4. The Bakamipilwi 

One curious thing that has been described to us by 
several elderly men is the Flying People, bakamipilwi. We 
were showing old Mungalo a picture of an aeroplane and 
trying to make him understand that we white people were 
so clever that we could now fly ! He was not so impressed 
as we expected him to be. " Oh ! " said he. " We saw 
them long ago." He went on to tell us how that, say, 
twenty-five years ago they came from the north-west and 
passed over Mala : he didn't know what they were, but 
they seemed to be men flying over the tops of the trees : 
whether they were men, or enormous birds or ghosts he 
couldn't say. We heard of them again from Chibaluma, 
who said he saw them flying between his place and the 
Nambala mountain, going south-east. He added that there 
were several companies of them and they were several days 
in passing over. Some Bambala say the trees were turned 
into people and passed away east. 

5. Ideas of Colour 

The colour-sense of the Ba-ila is undeveloped. There 
are but three special names : kusubila, is "to be red " ; 
kutuba, is " to be white," or rather, light-coloured ; and 
kushia, " to be black," or rather, to be dark-coloured. But 
it would be wrong to suppose from this that they can only 
distinguish those three. We have many times tested them 
with coloured wools and other things and found they had 
some ideas of the differences even when they could not 
name them. They give some colours the names of objects 
so coloured : e.g. a yellow thing is named from the butter- 
fly (inkongoloko) or cattle-urine (ishudiang ombe) ; ifumba- 
lushi and ishishi are browns ; shimufula-mwemvu, a. snake of 
that colour, gives its name to a green ; and injanjabizhi, a 
water plant, to another green. The names given to cattle, 
from their colours, are very interesting. Every variety has 
its special designation. 


6. Ideas of Number 

The Ila system of counting is decimal. They have dis- 
tinct names for the numbers up to ten : one is mwi ; two 
is bidi ; three is tatwe ; four is ne ; five is sanwe 
(these are adjectival roots and take the qualifying sub- 
stantival prefixes) ; six is chisambomwi ; seven is chiloba ; 
eight is lusele ; nine is ifuka ; and ten is ikumi. Eleven is 
ten and one ; twelve is ten and two, etc., twenty is two- 
tens, etc., twenty-one is two tens and one, etc., a hundred 
is rnwanda ; a thousand is chulu : the word is also applied 
to any great number. We have had workmen, ordinary 
unschooled young men, whom we could trust to count the 
number of poles in a waggon-load, say — 361. Men can 
very quickly tell whether a beast is missing from a herd : 
tell it more quickly than we could ; but that is probably 
because, not of their facility in counting, but of their ability 
to recognise each beast by its colour and other charac- 



Nobody who has watched Ba-ila at play would ever again 
regard them as without energy. They may be addicted to 
lolling about in a very listless fashion, but the sound of a 
drum awakens their energy : and when engaged in the dance 
they may keep it up most of the night, or in case of a sham 
fight, a large part of the day with magnificent elan. Many 
of the dances are associated with serious occasions, but we 
are here concerned only with amusements. In these, all 
the people join : from early childhood to an advanced age 
they have their various recreations. The asking of riddles, 
and telling of tales, both favourite amusements, are dealt 
with in later chapters. 

i. Adult Games of Skill and Dexterity 

(a) Chisolo. — Foremost among these games is one that 
in different forms is found over a large part of Africa. It 
is what the Bathonga call tshuba ; the Banyanja mchombwa, 
or msuo ; and the Ba-ila chisolo. This is not a children's 
game, though we have seen lads engaged in it with adults 
as their opponents, evidently a case of teaching the young 
idea how to shoot. 

This popular game is played by two men sitting on 
opposite sides of a " board," consisting of a series of shallow 
holes in the ground. The number of these varies ; we have 
watched games with as many as twenty holes on each side, 
but a more common number is fourteen. In any case they 
are arranged in four parallel lines, two to each player. Small 





stones, called lubwe, are used as ' men " : and of them 
each player has an equal number. The motive of the game 
is, by moving these stones in certain directions fixed by 
rule, to get them into positions relative to your opponent's 
and so sweep him off the board. The skill lies in selecting 

Photo I . II . Smith. 

Playing Chisolo. 

your move so as to bring your men into the required 

There are several varieties of the game : the following 
is a typical example of the kind named natatu (" the one 
of three "), so called because most holes contain three stones 
to start with. 

Each player has 33 stones, which he proceeds to place 
in the holes nearest to him — this is called " planting ' 


(kushanga) — three in each hole, except the last four on his 
right hand in the second row which have 2, i, o, o. They 
are now ready to start. They may move only in one direc- 
tion : in the line nearest the player from right to left, in 
the farther row from left to right. Thus in the plan here 
given A moves in the direction n—h — g — a ; and B, 7 — 1 — 
14 — 8. 1 The opening move is called kubingula, subsequent 
moves kuteka (" to draw water "). The player selects the 
hole to move from ; takes out the stones and drops them 
one by one in the following holes. The secret is to plan a 
move so as to leave the last of these stones in an otherwise 
empty hole, immediately opposite the opponent's occupied 
hole. If he succeeds in this, he takes all directly opposite 
that hole : this is "to eat " (kudya) ; and he has also the 
right to remove all the stones in any other hole of his op- 
ponent : this is kusuwa (" to snatch "). In the plan the 
" eaten " holes are marked • ; the " snatched " holes ©. 

Another form of move is called kusuntula (" to lift up "). 
You drop the men in the holes as before, but having come 
to the end of those you hold you take out all the stones 
from the last hole you come to and drop them one by one 
in succeeding holes : you can continue this till your last 
stone drops into an empty hole. At times one sees a player 
going round the board, twice or even three times, dropping 
men in successive holes and taking them out. They do it 
so rapidly that it is difficult to see what they are doing. 
The following will illustrate this suntula move : 



Diaguam of Suntula Move. 

The top row shows the holes before the move takes 
place ; and the lower, after he has moved. He takes 4 out 
of 1, drops one in each of 2, 3, 4, and 5 : he takes the three 
out of 5 and drops 1 in 6, 7, and 8. As 8 was empty he has 
to come to a stop ; but if there had been one or more in 

1 This applies to the first move : in the second move the player may, 
if he chooses, reverse the direction, but if he does he must keep to it 
through the rest of the game. A did so in the game here recorded. 

ch. xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 235 

that hole he could have gone on moving. The point where 
the move culminates is marked X on the diagram. 

The following plan shows the actual moves in a game 
recorded by us on the spot. 

I. The holes arranged for playing. 

II. B moves first. He takes 3 out of 12 ; puts 1 in 11 ; 1 in 
10 ; and 1 in 9. This brings him immediately opposite the 
holes / and i, each of which has three stones : he therefore 
" eats " these ; and " snatches " 3 out of h. 
III. A now follows and makes a corresponding move. He takes 
3 out of e ; puts 1 in d, 1 in c ; and 1 in b : he eats 3 out of 
13 and 3 out of 2 ; and snatches 3 out of 1. 
IV. B takes 3 out of 11 ; puts 1 in 10, 1 in g, and 1 in 8 : he 

eats 3 out of g ; and snatches 3 out of d. 
V. A takes 2 out of c ; puts 1 in d and 1 in e : he eats 3 out 

of 10 and 3 out of 5 ; and snatches 2 out of 9. 
VI. B takes 3 out of 14 ; puts 1 in 13, 1 in 12, 1 and 1 in 11 : 
he eats 1 in d and 3 in k ; and snatches one out of b. 
VII. A takes 3 out of m ; puts 1 in»; 1 in a ; and 1 in b : he 

eats 1 out of 13 ; and snatches 3 out of 3. 
VIII. B takes 3 out of 6 ; puts 1 in 5, 1 in 4, and 1 in 3 : he 
cannot eat because of his own 2 in 12 (and there are 
none in c), i.e. he is not immediately opposite I. 
IX. A takes 4 out of n ; puts 1 in a ; 1 in b ; 1 in c ; and 1 in 
d : he eats 1 out of 11, and 4 out of 4 ; and snatches 1 out 
of 12. 
X. B takes 3 out of 7 ; puts 1 in 6, 1 in 5, and 1 in 4 : he 
can't eat the 1 in d, because he is not immediately opposite. 
XI. A takes 2 out of b ; puts line and 1 in d ; he now suntula's, 
i.e. takes both out of d ; and puts 1 in e, and 1 in/. 
XII. B takes 2 out of 5 ; puts 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 ; he suntula's, 
i.e. takes out the 2 from 3, and puts 1 in 2 and 1 in 1. 

XIII. A takes 2 out of e ; puts 1 in / and 1 in g ; he eats 1 out of 
8, and snatches 1 out of 6. 

XIV. B takes 2 out of 4 ; puts 1 in 3, 1 in 2 ; he suntula's, i.e. 
takes the 2 out of 2, and puts 1 in 1 and 1 in 14 : he eats 
2 in a, and snatches 3 out of /. 

XV. A takes 2 out of/; puts 1 in g and 1 in h. 
XVI. B takes 2 out of 1 ; puts 1 in 14 and 1 in 13. 
XVII. A takes 2 out of c ; puts 1 in d and 1 in e. 
XVIII. B takes 2 out of 14 ; puts 1 in 13 and 1 in 12. 
XIX. A takes 2 out of g ; puts 1 in h and 1 in i. 
XX. B takes 2 out of 13 ; puts 1 in 12 and 1 in 11 : he eats 1 out 
of d, and snatches 3 out of j. 
XXI. A takes 2 out of h : puts 1 in i and 1 in j. 

1 There is an error in the plan : hole No. 12 at this point should have 
an only stone (not two) ; the error is continued in VII. and VIII. 



PT. V 

XXII. B takes 2 out of 12 : puts 1 in 11 and 1 in 10 : he eats 1 
out of e and 1 out of j : and snatches 2 out of i. 
XXIII. A has now no stones left : B has 1 in 3 ; 1 in 10 ; 2 in 11. 
B therefore wins : Wamwanga ("he ties him up"). 



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A Plan of a Chisolo Game. 

This game was complete in twenty-one moves ; but 
some, especially when the number of the holes is increased, 
are much more complicated and lengthy. One we recorded 

ch. xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 237 

was not complete until the 117th move. The game is 
frequently lengthened by one or both players " passing in 
foreigners," as they say, kuisha Balumbu. When one is 
getting beaten he has this privilege of adding six or seven 
fresh stones to his depleted holes and continuing the game. 
His opponent may elect to do the same. But unless he 
does, the other may not enjoy the privilege in two suc- 
cessive games. 

There are varieties of this game. One variety is played 
with only one stone in each hole. As there is no empty 
hole to act as the goal, the starter without moving one of 
his own stones makes a vacancy by eating two of his op- 
ponent's men opposite his own and snatches another. That 
empties three holes ; and his opponent does the same. As 
there are now vacant holes, the game can proceed as before. 
The players manoeuvre about to get their men into " eating " 
positions and also to avoid being eaten themselves. 

Another variety is named namudilakunze (" eating on 
the outside ") ; and is also played with one stone in each 
hole, but with the hole on the player's extreme left, on the 
outer row, empty. As the name implies, instead of eating 
stones on the inner row only those on the outer row can be 
eaten. This is the " eating " position : — 

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OJ Beats A. 

Nambidi is played, as its name indicates, with two stones 
in each hole. The opening move is the same as when one 
stone is in each hole. 

(b) A Hunting Game. — A favourite sport indulged in by 
adult men is an imitation lion hunt. This is not mere 
sport but serves a utilitarian purpose of practising the 
tactics actually pursued in the real thing. 

One man (or two) takes the place of the lion, and dresses 
in character, with ruffs on his arms and legs and round his 
neck, and a most realistic tail attached to a belt and pro- 
jecting behind. Some unfortunate herdsman has been 
attacked and now lies in the grip of the lion. The hunters, 

2 3 8 


PT. V 

befeathered and beruffed, with long wands as spears go out 
to attack it. They advance to the combat. One more bold 
than his fellows advances and throws his spear. It hits 
and with a growl the lion turns and bites savagely at it. 
The others advance and menace the lion — distracting his 
attention, so that they may seize an opportunity of rescuing 
their comrade. The beast charges and they retreat, but at 



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Photo C. Eari 

The Hunters and the "Lions. 

last achieve their object. The fun waxes fast and furious. 
The growls and roars of the lion, the shouts of the hunters, 
the beating of a number of drums and the singing and 
cheering of the spectators, the women cheering on the 
men — all make up an exciting scene. It is intensified 
when with a loud roar a second lion bounds into the 
midst and the hunters execute a strategic retreat. But it 
ends, as all hunts should, in the defeat and slaughter of 
the lions. 

Photo G. H. Nicholls. 

A Sham Lion Hunt : The Lion and his Victim. 
Scouts (in the distance) report the misadventure. 

Photo G. H. Xicholl^ 

A Sham Lion Hunt : The Hunters arrive on the Scene. 

Photo 6. H. Nicholls. 

A Sham Lion Hunt : Attacking the Lion. 

Photo 0. H. Nicholls. 

A Sham Lion Hunt : Rescuing the Lion's Victim. 

Photo G. H. Xicholls. 

A Sham Lion Hunt : Saved ! 

rhoto G. H. Xicholls 

A Sham Lion Hunt : The Hunters attacked by two Lions. 



PT. V 

(c) Spear Throwing. — Practising with spears is one form 
of sport. They compete in throwing — to see who can throw, 
farthest. In this many men are very expert. Shooting at 
a moving target is also practised. A large seed-pod of the 
Namuzungula tree is fastened to a long string and a man 
drags it at racing speed along a line of young men, making 
it bounce and jump. As it goes past they take aim. It is 

Photo JS. If. Smith. 

A Spear-throwing Competition. 
(The target, drawn by the running man, is hidden in the dust.) 

no mean test, for to spear the darting object requires con- 
siderable skill. 

2. Children's Games 

Here as elsewhere, the labour of adults is the play of 
children, that is to say, many games are simply an imita- 
tion of the serious pursuits of the elders. Boys very cleverly 
mould clay oxen and clay herdsmen — long isusu, impande 
and all. They build small kraals of sticks and spend happy 
hours putting the cattle in and out. Nowadays, figures of 




white men, mounted on horses and wearing monstrous hats, 
are introduced into the scene. Boys have fierce mimic 
battles, using long shafts of grass as spears. They charge 
and retreat and charge again and shout with glee when 
they succeed in transfixing the enemy. Generally speaking, 
such games are carried out with good temper, but some- 
times a sham fight develops into a real one, when sticks are 
grasped instead of grass and broken heads result. We 

Photo E. IV. Smith. 

Roys playing with Clay Oxen. 

remember one instance when a little boy of ten gravely 
brought a charge against another of the same age for 
hurting him in one of these sham fights, and claimed an 
ox as compensation. 

Here are two tiny naked boys sitting with legs stretched 
out. They have a wild cucumber which they cover with 
sand. Each has a spear — a grass stem with a thorn tied on 
the end — and they take turns in stabbing the heap to see 
who can impale the cucumber. " Ndawala ! Ndawala ! ''' 
they say in their pretty baby Ila. 



PT. V 

Boys are fond of dressing to imitate their elders ; if 
they have no bangles of ivory or brass they make them of 
grass, or mould clay on the arms to represent them. A 

Hioto B. II'. Smith. 

Very much a Man. 

very favourite sport is to plait a grass isusu and fix it on 
the head by a string passing over the forehead. With this 
on his head and a play bow and arrows in his hand, or a 
small spear of wood, the boy is proud and thinks himself 
verv much a man. 

ch.xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 245 

Girls play with dolls — carved out of wood and decked 
with beads, or simply made out of a mealie cob. They 
build tiny villages, with all the feminine appurtenances — 
the grinding stones, mortars, and all. 

Another favourite sport among the boys is the imita- 
tion, and caricaturing, of the movements of animals and 

One of the best things of the kind we have seen was 
performed by a lad of about eleven, who mimicked the 
antics, real and supposed, of the Honey-Guide (solwe : called 
for the purposes of the game mwana miyange). He had on 
a scanty loin-cloth, into the tail-piece of which he put a few 
handfuls of sand and tied it in a knot. Giving this a twist 
and working his loins, he kept the cloth whirling round in a 
circle, in imitation of solwe' s tail. He drew in his stomach 
and pushed out his chest, drew in his cheeks and pushed 
out his lips to imitate a beak, and then began his antics by 
dancing about on his toes. There is a post near, and to- 
wards this solwe advances mincingly — hoping to find honey, 
but fearing the stings of the bees. He pecks at the tree, to 
hop away with a cry and painful grimaces : presently he 
returns with bits of grass with which he proceeds to make 
a mock fire to smoke out the bees. Then he brings a dish 
and scrapes at the tree, while a friendly bystander drops a 
clod into the dish, and off he skips delightedly. All the 
time a man sits strumming a kankobele and the spectators 
sitting around laugh and cheer. It is a most amusing sight, 
and not the least amusing part is the severe gravity with 
which the youngster goes through his performance. He 
keeps it up to the point almost of exhaustion. Presently, 
with giving his tail a too vigorous shake round, the cloth 
drops off, leaving him exposed and shamefaced, to the merri- 
ment of the onlookers. 

We have seen other antics of a similar kind. One was 
in imitation of the Katongotongo bird (the Jacana ; called 
also inandananda) . A chorus is formed of a line of boys, 
who clap their hands and sing ; while the performer dances 
in front imitating the movements of the bird. One sings 
a solo : Katongo Katongo ntumina mudilo {" K., send me 
fire ! "), and the others chant in chorus — Tewe ! Tewe ! 



PT. V 

In their set games the motive is largely the same — an 
imitation of birds, animals, and objects. 

The game kabombwe (" Frog ") is played by boys who 
squat on the ground, with their arms passed under their 
knees. They hop about after the manner of frogs and 
sing : " Chibombwe chakundelela mwana " (" The great frog 
was nursing a child for me "), or this : " Bombwe ati ku Fulwe, 
tuye tudye boa " (" Frog said to Tortoise, let us go and eat 
mushrooms "). 

riwto E. If. Smith. 

The Game Ku lumamea liva mainza. 

The game chikwekwe is supposed to be a representation 
of the Iwando — the long mat of reeds stretched across a 
small river as a drag-net for fish. Boys and girls make a 
long line, holding hands, and then the leader starts off in a 
circular movement, all the rest following, and each dragging 
the other. The game is to see how long they can keep it 
up without any one loosing hold. As they go they sing : 
" Chikwekwe chilambuzha mudimo " (" Chikwekwe is asking 
me about the work "). 

Another game is supposed to be an imitation of a battle 
fought in marshy ground, where the warriors in charging 

ch. xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 247 

sink deeply into the mire at every step. The boys form up 
in two lines, kneeling on one knee, and advance, changing 
from one knee to the other, and clapping their hands. 
They sing : 

Ku lumamba Iwa mainza ! — " To the war of the rainy season." 

In the game chitendebele the motive is to represent a 
lukwi — the flat basket with sloping sides used in winnowing. 
The boys stand in a ring holding each other by the wrists. 
They dance round, and, as they go, throw themselves back 
as far as they can. They run round, sloping their bodies 
until it seems they must fall backwards. They keep it up 
till one, to save himself from falling, jumps back to regain 
the perpendicular. One boy sings and the rest join in 
chorus : 

Solo : Chitendebele — " The backward sloping thing ! " 
Chorus : Kamuchileka — " Leave it alone ! " 

Solo : Chitendebele. 
Chorus : Chitumbwa, kamuchileka — " Leave the old basket 

Another game, lutambo Iwa ngombe, is, as its name sug- 
gests, a representation of a calf, tied by the leg and trying 
to break free. Boys stand in a ring holding each other by 
the wrists. One boy is inside, and as they stand still he 
rushes, throws himself on their joined hands and endeavours 
to break through. Should he succeed, the boy who looses 
his hold takes his place in the ring. The boy within sings : 
" Lutambo Iwa ngombe " (" The reim of the ox ! "), and the 
others answer : " Talukosoka " (" It won't break "). 

Intululu represents an animal going into its burrow 
(bwina). The boys stand in file with their legs stretched 
apart. The hindmost boy creeps through between their 
legs and takes his place in the front, while the next follows. 
The boy sings : 

Intululu yenjila — " The intululu is entering." 

And the rest answer : 

Yenjila ku mudiango — " It enters by the door." 

This game, under the name of chombombo, is played by 



PT. V 

others to represent foreigners stealthily creeping into a 
village. The boys, standing, sing : 

Chombombo , akaka, balumbu benjila. 
" Chombombo ! Dear, oh dear, the foreigners are entering." 

Kulea miumba is a game in which the players are sup- 
posed to be fish dodging the fish-spears aimed at them. 
They stand about with their arms stretched up over their 

Photo E. Jl\ Smith. 

Playing Intululu or Chombombo. 

heads. One dances round his fellow, and he round another, 
until they all are dancing round each other. Of course 
they sing. 

Solo : Kulea miumba — " To escape the spears ! 
Chorus : Midimo nji yatuleta — " That's the work that brings us ! " 

Solo : Kulea miumba — " To escape the spears ! " 
Chorus: Kwesu ku Butwa — "There at our home in the Batwa 
Midimo yatuleta — " That's the work which brings us ! " 

In another game the boys represent a reedbuck wounded 
by the hunter. They stand in line with their legs apart, 




and come jumping in halting fashion as if their legs were 
broken. They sing : 

Solo : Banakasha mba hibilo — " The reedbuck are swift." 
Chorus : Ati mfuse chini chakonoka — " When I said I would 
shoot, the leg broke ! " 

Another game is in some imaginary fashion a caricature 
of birds, the secretary bird and the ingoane. Two boys 
kneel on the ground, facing each other, with a pole over 

Photo E. If. Smith. 

Boys playing the Banansakwe and Ingoane Game. 

their shoulders. They clap on the ground with their hands, 
and, as they do so, have each to dodge his head underneath 
one side of the pole to the other. They keep it up until 
one of them, in moving his head, knocks the pole off his 
They sing : 

Banansakwe tabapumbani 
Ivgoane nshi shipumbana. 
" The secretary bird doesn't move his head from side to side, 
the ingoane are they who move their heads." 

In another game boys form up in two lines to represent 
flocks of two carrion - eating birds — bashikube and mwa- 
ngvhwa. The idea is that these two birds always avoid each 


other when they come to feed on a carcase. The boys kneel 
in lines facing each other, with a boy in between them to 
represent a carcase. They advance on their knees and re- 
treat in alternation : as one approaches the carcase the 
others retire. They sing : 

Bashikube tabadiatana o mwangvhwa. 
" The vultures do not stand together with the mwangvhwa." 

Badiatana balweza ! 
" It would be horrible for them to stand together." 

Another game is representative of animals at play. Two 
bands of boys are drawn up facing each other, with their arms 
around their neighbour's neck. One company advances, 
singing : 

Solo : Mwanamukopwe yaya. 

" Our brother Mwanamukopwe." 
Chorus : Woona, shamukola imbwila. 

' He is asleep — the ground beans have intoxicated him." 

The other line now advances, singing : 

Solo : Nu banyama kubingwa. 

" You animals to be driven." 
Chorus : Nu banyati nkwaya ku mulonga. 

" You buffaloes, that is where he goes to the river." 

The two lines pass by each other, wheel round and return. 
Then they dance up to each other and charge with wild 
yells : " U ! U ! U ! Ah ! Ah ! " Once again they form 
in two lines, with arms round each others' necks, and advance 
and retreat, singing : 

Kit manyama, kubinga ku manyati. 
' To the many animals, to drive to the buffaloes." 

Ing'ombe ingofu ("the blind cow") is like our blind- 
man's buff. The "cow' is not blindfolded, but simply 
closes his eyes. He has a reed in his hand with which to 
touch any of the boys springing about round him. He 
sings : " Ing'ombe ingofu " ("A blind cow ! ") The others 
answer : " Teboni " ("It can't see ! ") The first one touched 
has to take the " cow's " place. 

The game kabia is supposed to be a representation of a 
small earthenware pot. Boys stand in a close ring, holding 

ch.xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 251 

each the other by the little ringer of one hand and grasping 
the thumb of that hand with his other thumb, all knuckles 
up. Their hands, lifted above their heads, make a circle ; 
they raise and depress it, to show the form of a pot. 
The leader sings : 

Kabia — " A little pot ! " 
Chorus : Kabwengo — " A relish ! ' 

In the shikamimbia a Mala game (" The swallow at 
Mala ") the representation is of a swallow. The boys stand 
in a circle, with their arms crossed so that each grasps his 
neighbour's knee. They dance round : leave hold of the 
knees to clap their hands and regrasp them : singing all 
the time : 

Ibia diakamutola Shimimenga a Mala. 
Okoko disanduluke, isamo diabola, 
Okoko disanduluke. 
' The big pot took him, Shimimenga, at Mala ! 
And there change over again, the tree is rotten. 
And there change over again !" 

As they pronounce the word for " change," they alter their 

Mambwanyanga is supposed to represent the long stems 
of the pumpkin and melon plants. The boys stand in a 
long line, grasping each other by the wrist. The leader 
sings : 

Mambwanyanga ! 

Others in chorus : 

SJiibalabala shiboni matanga. 
" I do not see the melons." 

As the leader sings he goes through under the arms of the 
next pair, then through the next, dragging the others after 
him. It is like a long chain, threading one end through 
the links. When all have passed through they reverse and 
go back, singing : 

Lushi ! Lushi ! twenda nu bana, tumuswanganye tumwikate. 
' Round and round it goes, oh children, let us meet him and 
seize him." 

Another game is supposed to be a representation of a 
tortoise with its hard shell. It is called iiamakaka a fulwe. 


One boy kneels, all fours, on the ground. Two boys lie at 
right angles to him, one on each side, and put their legs 
over his back : each then grasps the other's feet and raises 
himself slightly off the ground. The boy in the middle 
moves off with his burden ; as they go they sing : 

Namakaka fulwe mbweenda. 
' That is how hard-backed tortoise walks." 

There is a game called inyundo (" the hammer ") which 
is a representation of the blacksmith's work. There are 
two bands of boys, sitting on the ground. One leaves his 
company — walking on hands and heels, face upwards — and 
goes across to the other and begs a hammer. They answer : 
' ' Mukafula o bani?" ("With whom will you do the smithery? ") 
The other company answer : " We will do it with machende." 
He returns as with the hammer and starts knocking. An- 
other boy from the opposite company now comes with the 
same request. They ask what he wants to make, and his 
company answer : " Tulafula intongwezhi " (." We shall forge 
a star ! ") They give it to him, saying : ' Here it is ! ' 
Then they begin to fight over the hammer. A boy, going 
along in the same position, charges the company opposite, 
shooting out his foot and giving one of them a kick — if he 
can — and quickly retreating. They charge and recharge — - 
darting about with remarkable quickness in this strange 

In the game banakabwenga, stronger boys take the 
juniors on their shoulders — their feet hanging over the front 
and their heads hanging down behind. They go about 
singing. There is some imaginary reference to hyenas carry- 
ing their young in this fashion. 

In the game shikoswe (" rats "), boys squat on the 

ground, with their hands through under their knees to give 

the appearance of four legs. They dance about. The leader 

sings : 

Shikoswe ! Shikoswe ! — " Rats ! Rats ! 
Chorus : Nkwatile mbeba — " Catch me a field-rat." 
Leader : Mbeba waunka — ■" The field-rat has cleared." 

Then they dance back. Another takes up the song as 
before and they go dancing about. 




There is a game played which is a kind of dramatic 
representation of thefts from a melon patch. One boy 
stands with his hands lifted above his head — he is a lubange 
bush growing in the garden ; kneeling on the ground around 
him are five or six other boys, with their faces hidden low 
down : one of them has his head between the " lubange' s ' 
knees. These are the melons, one of them being caught 
fast in the lubange bush. The owner comes round to examine 
his melons, and thumps each one as he says: " Matanga 

Photo E. li: Smith. 

Boys playing the Game "In the M elon- patch. " 

angu mudizudile ? ' : ("Are you all here, my melons?"). 
They answer : " Yes, we are all here." He goes away : 
then comes the thief, who, stealthily and with much looking 
about, carries off one of the melons. By and by the 
owner comes again to count his melons and, tapping 
them, asks again : " Are you all here, my melons ? ' They 
answer: " Kamwandamwanda ng'uteo" (" K. is absent") 
This is repeated again and again, until the thief, having 
removed all the loose melons, tries to dislodge the one fixed 
in the lubange bush. While he is at it the owner comes 
upon him, and asks who has taken his melons. The thief 


answers that he doesn't know : he also has lost a lot. He 
persuades the owner ; they pluck off each a branch of 
lubange (by pulling down the boy's arms) and go off. Later, 
the owner discovers the thief in the very act of bearing off 
the last melon. The game is up and the thief is chased 
by all — owner, lubange, melons and all. 

Other games can be classified only as play. There are 
numerous such games, and it would be impossible to give 
an adequate idea of them. The boys enter into them with 
immense zest. It would be as easy to describe them as it 
would be to describe young colts at play. Some of them 
might be regarded as trials of skill and dexterity : in others 
the only motive is to make as much noise and kick up as 
much dust as they can. 

In the game lutu a boy sits on the ground holding a 
long string, to the other end of which is attached a bunch 
of grass. He whirls this round his head, at a distance of 
about two feet from the ground. As it whirls round, the 
boys rush in and jump over it, perhaps as many as three at 
once. One boy lies crouching near the whirler, and the 
jumper in the intervals between his jumps has to bend down 
and pinch him, and then jump over the string as it comes 
round to him. The boy who is pinched is called kamwale 
(" the maiden "). 

In katundulwa the boys stand closely together in a ring, 
with their arms round each other's waist. One boy is in 
the centre and may have rather a rough time, for the idea 
is for the circle gradually to press in upon him, closer and 
closer, while he makes frantic efforts to escape between the 
legs. The boy inside sings : " Katundulwa ! ' The others 
answer : " Uvhwile kwi ? " (" Where will you escape ? "). 

In kanyanja the boys form a ring, holding each other 
by the wrist and dance round. One boy crouches inside 
and hops about trying to escape. They sing : 

Solo : Kanyanga kadila — " Kanyanga cries." 
Chorus : Kadila mwitanga — " He cries in the enclosure." 

Impila is a ball game, played with a ball made of resin or 
rubber. No sides are chosen, but each boy throws to a 
friend, while the others try to intercept it. As one throws 

ch. xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 255 

he claps his hands, and the boy preparing to catch it must 
first clap his hands. 

Another favourite sport is kunma bungo (" to beat the 
ball "). It is a kind of hockey, played by two parties with 
sticks and a palm-nut as a ball. 

In the muneke game they stand in a ring holding hands 
and dance round, singing : 

Tuleebela mbu aika muneke, 
Mulumi adye muneke. 
' We will watch how she cooks muneke, 
That her husband may eat muneke." 

Still holding hands, two of the players bend to the 
ground and the one between them has to step over the 
hands, turn round and regain his position, all without 
releasing his hold. Should he bungle this and, not being 
sufficiently lithe, be forced to leave hold, then they deride 
him by saying he is the cooker of muneke (" ill-cooked 
food "). 

Another ring game is called nzenze. One player squats 
on the ground in the ring, and the others join hands and 

O Nzenzele ukamukume Kama. 
" Oh, you Nzenzele, you may mention Kanza." 

One of the players, still holding hands, springs forward 
and must leap round the inside boy without touching 
him, while the others do their best to pull him so that 
he falls over the boy. The boy in the centre doesn't 
have a very good time. He is relieved by the first who 
touches him. 

One game is unique among these youngsters' gambols. 
In all except this they strive to outdo each other in noise : 
in this, silence reigns. It is called muvhumuko (" the 
silencer ! "). The boys stand in a ring with one inside. 
Mum's the word : the first who speaks has to take his 
place within. This is not by any means a popular game. 
We have only seen it once. 

Buwawa (" tickling ") is a game played by boys in the 
evening. A number of them sit in line with their legs 
stretched out, and one goes along the line, drawing his 


hands along each boy's legs in turn. As he does so he 

sings : 

Tandabale — " Stretch out." 

They reply in chorus : 

Bawawa ! 

He goes round a second time, lifts up one leg of each 
boy and plants it with knee flexed. As he does so he tickles 
the boy's knee-cap. He goes round a third time and puts 
up the other legs, and the boys all sit with their arms on 
their knees. Then he sings : 

Adikuluke ikumbi — " Let the cloud descend ! " 
Adibwele ikumbi — " Let the cloud return ! " 

As he sings the first line they shoot out their legs, and 
return to the former position as he orders the " cloud ' 
to return. He goes round again, separating the knees and 
knocking them on the ground. They sing in chorus : 

Tupampe insanya o baina shabalnma. 
" Let us shake out the bugs, they bite my mother." 

He separates their feet and draws them together, saying as he 
does so : " Twabona mo ! " (" We see (the bugs) in here ! "). 
He does this to each in turn : at the end he takes each boy 
under the arms and lifts him up rigid, without the legs 
bending. As he does so, he says : " Bwasuntuka butala bwa 
kanini" (" the grain bin of So-and-so is raised"), naming 
each boy's village in turn. 

In katantaile, a number of boys stand in file, each 
with his hands on the shoulders of the boy in front of him. 
The hindmost boy runs back a short distance, charges 
and jumps with all his force upon the back of the next 
boy. As he does so he sings : 

Katanta katantaile — " Let the jumper go on jumping up ! 

They answer : 

Katanta kadinyelele — " I can bear the jumper." 

The boy upon whom he springs carries him off to the 
front, deposits him there and returns to take his turn at 
jumping. The game goes on until all have jumped in turn. 








Kanzhinge is a game very similar to the Oranges and 
Lemons familiar to our own younger days. Two boys 
stand making an archway with their arms, while the others 
form in file and march round. As they go the boys 
standing sing : 

Banangu bamanina mukasaka kazhinge. 
" My children make a circling movement in the forest ! 

And the players answer : 

Sansadi bombwe. 

They pass through the arch and the boy in the rear is 
cut off, and takes his place behind one of the two pillars. 
It goes on till one boy only is left. He makes strenuous 
efforts to break through without being trapped. He sings : 

Kanga kazhinge kaladikumbakumba mu twembezhi. 
" The little, little quail scratches about among the herd-boys." 

The others answer : 

Kaladikumba — " It scratches about." 

He circles round and round, with many a feint, and 
manages perhaps to break through. It goes on until he 
is caught. 

Lembelembe is a kind of " Follow my leader," each boy 
having to do as the leader does. The boys sit down in a 
ring. The leader kneels on one knee, and sings : ' ' I lembelembe 
musamo mukololo." They repeat it in chorus. Then he 
chants to one boy: " Uwe, choka" (" You, be broken! "). 
The boy answers: " N choke" ("Let me be broken") and 
kneels on one knee. When they have all done this, he 
begins again : " Uwe, vheketa." The boy answers : 
" Nvhekete," and sits on one hip-joint with the legs at the 
side. He goes the round and sings again : " Ilembelembe 
musamo mukololo." He says to one, " Uwe, ona " (" You, 
sleep!"). The boy says " Ngone" ("Let me sleep") and 
lies down. He goes the round with this. Then he begins 
again. He makes a ring on the ground before the first 
boy and sings: " Umwesu umwesu mudi ng'ombe!''' ("At 
our home there is a cow ! "). The boy imitates him. He 
goes to the next. " In my place there is an ox." The 

ch.xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 259 

boy follows him. He goes the round, varying his song — 
." There is a grain bin," " There is a stamping block," etc. 
At the end he jumps up suddenly and says: " Ushadila 
wamuluma luka" ("A tsetse-fly will bite the last one"). 
They jump up and rush off with gleeful shouts, not forgetting 
to jeer the last one to rise. 

There is a girls' game in which they squat on the ground, 
one line facing another. One girl takes a bit of grass and 
makes her way, without rising, in a series of short jumps, 
to the other side, singing : 

Kanyama ntole kwa tzta. 
' Let me take a little animal to my father." 

The other side sings : 

Leta ! Leta ! — " Bring, bring." 

In another game, a boy sits on the ground with his 
legs stretched out, while another lies on his stomach with 
the other's body between his legs. The sitting boy then 
gaily sings, while smacking the other on the buttocks : 

Bombambomba , tusahimuke , knya kutanguna kuzuma 
Tn sandumuke ! 
" Submit to me till we turn over. Go and be the first 
to be tired. 
Let us turn over." 

And the spectators keep on chanting: " Bombambomba ! ' 
When he reaches the last word of the song there is a 
sudden twist, and lo ! they have exchanged positions, so 
that the boy who was at first sitting up is now lying on 
his stomach and has in turn to be smacked. As the second 
boy smacks he sings the same song. 

Another game consists in a number of boys squatting 
on their heels in a close circle and beating the ground with 
the palms of their hands. The object seems to be to make 
as much noise and dust as they can. All the time they 
sing : " Wansomba wansomba.'' 

In the game bwato (" a canoe ") a pole about 3 feet 
6 inches long and with a pointed end is planted in the 
ground. A longer pole has a hole made in it, into which 
is loosely fitted the upright. A boy sits on each end of 



PT. V 

this longer pole, and by the help of long sticks they set 
it revolving. Faster and faster they go, in a way to make 
the spectators dizzy. 

Nyumbe is a swing The one swinging sings : 

Nyumbe I—' Let me swing." 


Photo E. //". Smith. 

The Game Bitato. 

While the others answer : 

Nzemwa kalando, ndamukula dino. 
" He who gets in the way, I will knock out his tooth." 

Shikonkobele is a hopping race. 

There is a whistling race too. One boy trots alongside 
the competitor, who walks as fast as he can, whistling ; 
the moment he stops whistling his companion halts and 




marks the ground to show how far he has got ; and the 
next tries to go one better. 

3. Legerdemain and Puzzles 

We have often heard of wonderful conjurers among 
these people, but have never succeeded in witnessing any 

riwto E. IT. Smith. 

Jeu de Patience. 

of the tricks — they are called mabibo. For some reason 
they have been hidden from us. We are not sure even 
that we are correct in classing them here as amusements : 
they may have some mystical significance. We have 
heard of such things as these : handling and swallowing 
fire ; gashing the tongue, and then putting medicine on 
it and showing it healed instantaneously ; chopping the 
leg with an axe and healing it in an instant, so that no 


scar shows, by application of medicine ; sitting on a fire. 
We should like to have seen these, but can only mention 
their reported existence. Some say the tricks are only 
done by ' drunken ' men. It is said of such conjurers 
that they cannot be bewitched — they are impervious. 

We have seen only one puzzle among these people. 
This was made of two small pieces of flat wood, each having 
three holes pierced in it. A piece of string is taken and 
the ends spliced : the string is doubled and passed through 
the holes, so that when complete the puzzle consists of 
the pieces of wood and a double cord joining them, some 
twelve inches apart. The puzzle is to unthread the sticks 
without breaking or unsplicing the string. A man will 
say to another who doesn't know the trick : ' Untie this, 
and I'll give you a spear." The other accepts the challenge 
and promises a spear if he cannot do it. It is quite a clever 
puzzle, and it took us a long time to master it. It is 
complicated when four or five pieces of wood or more are 
used. Our illustration shows seven of them. 

4. Musical Instruments 

The Ba-ila have no great range of musical instruments, 
and none that has not been already described in books 
dealing with other African tribes. 

The stringed instruments are very simple. The katumbu 
is a musical bow, with a calabash as a resonator. A second 
and rather more elaborate form is made up of a piece of 
wood shaped into a shallow bow, and having at one end 
a number of notches used for tightening the cord (see 
illustration) . 

The mantimbwa, used only by girls in the seclusion of 
the initiation huts, consists of two rough bows cut by the 
girls from a Munto or Muntembwe bush, and stringed with 
a twisted cord of palm-leaf. The girl sits with a pot between 
her knees (nowadays often a tin pan, as giving more 
resonance) ; the bows rest on this, one supported on each 
shoulder, and are kept in place by a stick passing over 
the bow under her knees. She twangs with both hands, 
holding the cord of one bow between her lips to vary the 




tone. She sits and plays this by the hour together 
(see p. 22). 

Percussion instruments are of some variety. 

The xylophone (budimba) is made of about ten 
wooden slats fastened lightly with cords, passing through 
holes in them, upon a framework. On the reverse side of 
the frame are fixed a number of elongate calabashes, of 
various sizes, each under one of the slats : these are the 
resonators. If a calabash of suitable size is not to be had, 
the maker neatly joins two smaller ones together. In the 

Photo E. II'. Smith. 

Two Kinds of Katumbu, Musical Row. 

lower two-thirds each calabash has a small hole pierced in 
it, over which is fixed the thin tough web of the shilubidila 
spider. A large bow is fixed on to the instrument, to keep 
it at a distance from the player's body when playing it. 
The player stands upright, or squats on the ground, a cord 
round his neck supporting the instrument. He plays on 
the keys with two sticks — the heads of which are covered 
with string and a rubber substance. The tone is sweet, 
and a good player can produce very pleasant sounds from 
the instrument. 

The imbila is a very simple form of the budimba, 
consisting of a single wooden slat, fixed on a frame above an 



PT. V 

open calabash with narrow mouth. It is struck with a 
stick. It is used by hunters in the veld and is also played 

rhoto E. If. Smith. 

A Man playing the Dudimba. 

when, on their return, they make the thank-offering at the 
Iwanga. It is said to have been introduced from the 




The kankobele, or native piano, consists of a keyboard 
with about twelve metal keys, superimposed on a small open 
calabash. The player holds it in his hands and strums 
with his fingers. 

Photo F. If. Smith. 

Four Ba-ila Pianos. 

There are several varieties of the drum proper— all 
called ingoma. 

The namalwa is a friction drum — a hollow cylinder 

Pad of grass 
or palmstring 

— Peg 

Diagram ok the Push-drum. 

carved from a solid log. It is open at the base. The head 
is covered with a skin, like the kayanda, but has a hole in 
the centre through which passes the end of a reed, secured 
outside with a peg. 


To play the namalwa a man takes some sodden grass in 
his hand and grasps with it the reed inside the drum, and 
then draws his hand backwards and forwards along the 
reed. He sits with the drum between his legs, the head 
outwards : and as he plays with his right hand, with his 
left he grasps the string to steady it. This drum produces 
a deep, booming note. It is used in giving announcement 
of war, or accident or disaster of any kind. Also, when 

Photo E. IV. Smith. 

Man playing the Namalwa — "Push-drum." 

cattle are to be crossed over a river, they send this drum 
ahead in a canoe and the cattle follow. 

The mwandu is formed by placing an inkidi (" grain 
mortar ") on the ground and covering the top with dressed 
leather. A woman dips one hand in water and draws it up 
and down a reed stood upright on the leather. This produces 
a deep, raucous note. It is used in connection with the 
girls' initiation ceremonies. 

The kayanda is the ordinary drum or tom-tom. They 
vary considerably in size and the quality of their workman- 




ship. A well-made, well-preserved drum is a handsome 
object. One is made from a solid block of a light, tough 
wood — usually Muntuntumba or Mulombe ; and is hollowed 
out, of course, by hand with spears and other rough tools. 
The shape is seen in the photo. The head of the drum is 
formed of skin, which is put on wet, with the hair side 
upwards, left to dry, and the hair then shaved off. The 
skin is fastened on by means of pegs. The drum is played 

Photo E. IT. Smith. 

The Kayanda Drum. 

by one man with his hands. He stands it up between his 
feet, holding it between his knees. He hits with the lower 
part of the palm and first phalanges, sometimes with the 
tips of his fingers. 

This drum plays a large part in the life of the Ba-ila. 
It has serious, as well as recreative, functions. It figures at 
all the dances : there is no more common sound in Bwila 
than its dum-dum-dum-tum-tum-tum-tur-r-r-r. 

From the Barotsi has come a certain way of beating 
the drum called kutambausha, and Lewanika granted the 
right to Kaingu and Sezongo of having their drums so 



PT. V 

played — no other chief may do it ; the attempt by a sub- 
ordinate chief to usurp the right caused much trouble. 

And on this drum signals are conveyed. Constantly 
when travelling we have heard the drum beating on 
our leaving a village, and on arrival at the next have 
found ourselves expected. It is awkward when the 
government official is thus heralded, and on arrival 

Photo E. If. Smith. 

The Ingomantambwe and Indandala 

finds tax-defaulters absent. The drummer of the chief 
Sezongo once initiated us into the code of signals, but we 
found it impossible to record them. There were signals to 
call the people to the chief's village to discuss business ; 
to announce the arrival of visitors ; a special signal for the 
government official's approach ; and others to proclaim 
tidings — as of war, and disaster and triumph. 

The indandala is a small drum or tambourine, 6| inches 
in diameter and 4^ inches in height. The wooden rim 

ch. xxv THE BA-ILA AT PLAY 269 

is carved out of a solid block, the one end covered with 
skin. It is beaten with a short stick. It is used in hunt- 
ing and war to carry signals. 

The ingomantambwe or iyavukuvuku is a small ..push- 
drum. It consists of a hollow cylinder of wood, carved 
out of a single block, about 5^ inches in diameter and 
9 inches high. It is made on the same principle, and 
played in the same way, as the namalwa, except that, 
being small, it can be carried in the hand. 

Wind instruments include the impeta — a horn of the 
reedbuck, pierced with a hole at or near the tip, used much 
by herdsmen when bringing home the cattle ; and the 
mwembo, a larger kind of the same. 

Rattling instruments include the injua or insakalala : 
a simple thing like a child's rattle. Nowadays it is made 
of a condensed milk tin containing a few mealies or pebbles, 
and a handle passing through it. This is much used by 
travellers on the march to make a diversion. 

The rattles on the legs of dancers may be mentioned, 
and the bits of iron strung on the sporran. The ingonji 
are iron bells, made in pairs, and used by the Balumbu. 

5. Singing and Dancing 

Through ignorance of technique, we find ourselves at a 
loss when we come to describe the music and dancing 
of the Ba-ila. We can give, and have already given, the 
words of many of the songs, but to illustrate the music 
and to detail the steps of the dances are beyond us. 

The Ba-ila are great lovers of song. Hardly any game 
mentioned in this chapter is complete without singing. 
They sing, when travelling, to keep up their spirits ; they 
sing at funerals and at all public celebrations. They are 
particularly fond of a chorus, and most of the songs consist 
of a line sung as a solo by one man, followed by several 
lines in which all the party joins. And a man feeling 
lonely will start up a song, very often in the middle of 
the night, all by himself : this is kuyabila. To sing ordin- 
arily is kuimba, and a song is Iwimbo. To dance is kuzhana. 


There are a great number of names describing the various 

The dance plays an important part in the life of the 
people. On the whole, theirs is a monotonous existence, 
a rarely broken round of work and idleness. For many of 
them the day passes without any physical exertion. The 
heat is enervating during much of the year, and it is far 
more comfortable to loll about in the shade of the 
verandahs than to perspire in the hot sun. Ceremonial 
occasions, such as the initiation dances, the Makubi, and 
funerals, supply the necessary stimulus to energy ; and the 
fine moonlight nights give a welcome occasion for throwing 
off the lassitude attendant upon the hot days. 

The dances are a revelation of the latent energy of 
the people. Often when irritated by the idle ways of 
one's workmen, one thinks of Triptolemus Yellowley and 
his complaints about the Zetlanders : " Give them a spade 
and they work as if it burnt their fingers ; but set 
them to dancing, and see when they will tire of funking 
and flinging." Many of the dances are merely a matter 
of gaiete de cceur. Those associated with the rites may 
have some mystic significance, though we cannot say what 
that is. The dances associated with the Basala certainly 
are not a mere recreation. 

Many of the dances are patently mimetic. Occasion- 
ally one finds a man who dances a description of some 
event. A chief on the confines of the Bwila produced for 
our inspection a huge knife which he said was a precious 
heirloom, and derived originally from the Congo country, 
and in the evening he danced a most vividly realistic 
representation of a fight between two men, including the 
hacking off of the head of the defeated. 

Many of the set dances are also mimetic. For example, 
that named malasha is nothing more than an imitation 
of the actions of a man suffering from venereal disease. 
Each dancer in turn goes through his painful way of limping 

In some dances the women act alone, the only men 
taking part being the drummers. The women form up 
in line, standing close together and clapping their hands, 









shuffling their feet, and moving their bodies backwards 
and forwards. Then one springs forward and executes a 
pas de seul and returns to the line, her place being taken 
by another. Other dances are danced by both men and 
women. They stand in two lines — one of men and the other 
of women — and sing and clap hands. Then a person from 
each line advances and they meet and dance round each 
other without touching. Their place is then taken by 

They are very quick in learning new songs and dances. 
You arrive at a village accompanied by a host of carriers 
and in the evening a dance takes place. The carriers join 
in, and then perhaps in an interval take charge of the pro- 
ceedings by seizing the drums and starting a dance of 
their own. Tune and song and dance, maybe, are all 
totally strange to the villagers ; you see them intently 
listening and watching, then they begin tentatively clap- 
ping their hands ; they get into the swing of it, quickly 
catch the tune and words of the song, and in a very short 
time are singing and dancing with all their might, as if 
they had known it intimately all their life. 

We have watched many of the dances without detect- 
ing any improprieties. The words of many of the songs 
are innocuous ; often they are quite irrelevant or the merest 
nonsense. On the occasions, especially in the Mwandu 
and Chisungu, connected with the initiation of the girls, 
both dances and songs are grossly obscene. There may 
be some hidden significance in them — that there is such 
attached to the songs we have already seen — but the 
apparent motive is to excite the passions to the highest 

The occasions when lewd songs are not only permitted 
but are regarded as essential to the ritual, are at sowing- 
time ; at the Lwando fishing ; when a new canoe is taken 
to the river to be launched ; when smelting iron ; at the 
Initiation ; and at funerals and the Makubi. They are also 
employed in the Kashimbo dance. In these dances a man 
may not have as partner his sister, niece, aunts, nor any 
of his bazhile. 

We will give here the words, with a translation, of some 




more of the songs. It is not easy, even for one well 
acquainted with the language, to translate these songs 
They abound in words and phrases of not a bit more mean- 
ing than " Hi-tiddeley-hi-ti " or " Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay." 
And to a philologist it is especially interesting to find in 
the songs grammatical forms which are not in the ordinary 
speech, but which he can recognise in other Bantu 
languages. For instance, one finds in Ila songs the impera- 

Photo Rev. J. If. Price. 

The Band at a Dance. 

tive suffix -ni, which is never otherwise used by them, 
but which is the ordinary form in Zulu and Xosa. And, 
again, one finds the possessive -mi suffixed to the noun 
mwana, — mwanami (" my child," " my dear child ") ; we 
have never heard it outside of the songs, and only know 
of its existence elsewhere in the Suto language. 
1. Women's song at funerals and when sowing : 

Tu bana Leza, Yeye. Tu bana Mwami, Yeye. 

Tu bana Leza, Kemba watubona ; 

Tu bana Leza, Muninde watubona ; 

Tu bana Mwami, Yeye, tu bana Leza, Yeye. 

' We are children of Leza, Yeye. We are the Lord's children, Yeye ! 
We are children of Leza, Kemba sees us, 



We are children of Leza, the Watcher sees us. 

We are the Lord's children, Yeye ; we are the children of Leza, 

2. Men's song ; funeral song : 

Mb'uunga musanza, Yeye ! 
Waunga musanza, utelele, 
Mb'uunga musanza, Yeye ! 
Waunga musanza, utelele. 

" This is how the forest shakes in the wind, Yeye, 
The forest shakes in the wind, listen." 
Etc. etc. 

As they sing they raise their spears aloft and crash them 

3. Song for the Baami (prophets) when rain is scarce : 

Chongo-chongo, nu baami, nu bana bakunzuma 
Nkambileni milonga yaka Mwanza idi musa. 

" Chongo-chongo, you prophets, you children of the thundering 
east, 1 
Clap for me, for the rivers of Mwanza are only half-full." 

4. Song sung by the Baami : 

Bulongo akaka ! Bulongo mbwezha kwiwe, 
Ya-ye-ya, ingala, mwadi, 
Ya-ye-ya, ingala, mwadi, 
Shimushimbula kolanga mwinangu, 
Ya-ye-ya, ingala, mwadi. 

" Bulongo oh ! Bulongo, take me back to the east. 
Ya-ye-ya, an ornament to the head she is here. 
Ya-ye-ya, an ornament to the head she is here. 
Pucker-up of the brows, look at my wife, 
Ya-ye-ya, an ornament to the head she is here. 

5. A warrior's song, sung at the Mwandu and any time : 

Ndawala, ndawala, kwiwe-e, kwiwe-eye, 

Ku buyasanino kwiwe, 

Ndawala, ndawala, kwiwe-e, kwiwe-eye. 

" I threw a spear, threw a spear, in the east, in the east, away yonder, 
On the battlefield of the east, 

I threw a spear, threw a spear, in the east, in the east, away 

1 The reference is to the thunderstorms gathering from the east. 


6. A song sung of a man escaped from a lion : 

Kubulwabulwa kavhalama namaundu 

Wo ! Wo ! Yeye ! Wo ! Tadi munyama, vnawe ! 

Munyama udi mubumbe. 

" At the place of many islands, roared the dweller in the veld ! 
Wo ! Wo ! Yeye ! Wo ! He is not a wild beast, oh dear ! 
No, but one moulded in wild-beast form." 

(I .e. Is one made by the art of a warlock.) 

7. A song made by dancers on hearing a woman mourn- 
ing for her child : 

Kachila, maloama, mwezhezhe. 
Ambwene ndawezhezha twambo twaleta lundu, 
Twala oto ntu asama kakasowaila mulwenge, 
Kabakasakila bachiwena, mawe ! mwanangu. 

" Kachila, blood of my blood, let me think of you, 
Perhaps, thinking of you, the whole world will know of my grief. 
These little hair-ornaments let them be thrown into the river 
That the crocodiles may wear them. Oh dear ! my child." 



The languages of Northern Rhodesia belong to the Bantu 
family. The following grouping is founded upon sugges- 
tions made by Father Torrend, S.J., in a letter to the 
writer, and upon Sir H. H. Johnston's article on Bantu 
languages in the Encyclopedia Britannica. 
i. Ila, Lenje, Sala, Tonga, Totela, Subia. 

2. Sodi, Bwini-Futwe. 

3. Lamba, Rwano, Bulima, Lala, Maswaka, Tabwa, 
Twa, Bisa, Bemba. This is the most widely spread group. 

4. Masasa or Mbwela. 

5. Kaundi, closely allied to the Kanyoka of the Congo. 

6. Lui, to which may be related Mbwe, Bukushu, 

7. Nyanja, Senga. 

1. Phonetics 

The writer is mainly responsible for the present ortho- 
graphy of Ila, 1 and he confesses that if he had to do the 
work again he would adopt the alphabet of the International 
Phonetic Association, of which he was ignorant at the time 
but which now seems to him to be the best system in 
all respects. The chief fault of the present system is 
the use of the compound symbols sh, etc., for what are 
really simple sounds. The following are the Ila consonants 
in the I. P. A. script, the ordinary letters, where they differ, 
being given in brackets. 

1 E. W. Smith, Handbook of the Ila Language (Oxford University 
Press, 1907), and other books. 




PT. V 

Table of Ila Consonants 





Breath. Voice. 







Plosive . 

P b 












Lateral . 




v 1 (vh) 



J (ah) 

5 (zh) 


Glottal, breath, fricative : h. 

1 This sign y is not used by the I. P. A. 

We use these signs in this section, but in the other sections of this 
chapter, as in the rest of the book, we are content to spell Ila as it is now 

The free breath (spiritus lenis), which we show by ', is not 
distinguished in Ila books but it must find a place here. If 
Ila were correctly written, a vowel would no more stand 
unsupported than it does in Hebrew and Arabic ; such 
words as amba, ita would be preceded by a sign like Aleph 
or Alif-hamza to mark the emission of the breath, the 
weak guttural effort made when one passes from silence 
to the pronunciation of a vowel. Although for practical 
purposes the ' is not necessary, a recognition of it is essen- 
tial to an understanding of the phonetics and morphology 
of Ila. 

The plosive sounds : 

The breath in its passage from the throat to the lips 
may be completely blocked at various points. By the 
pressure of the back of the tongue upon the soft palate 
and sudden withdrawal two Ila sounds are formed, viz. 
k and g, as in kama, guna. 

The tongue pressed against the palate farther forward 
and suddenly released produces the sound phonetically 
written c which is represented as ch in Ila books. It is 

ch. xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 279 

heard in such words as chaba, chita, chinichini. The sound 
varies. Sometimes ci is heard more like ki, that is, the 
point of articulation is drawn back nearer to the posi- 
tion of k. Sometimes the sound resembles more the ch 
in English church, i.e. the composite sound /$ ; and 
sometimes, when followed by u, it approximates to the 
sound in tune, i.e. the breathed fricative sound written 
phonetically ig (tc:un). 

The voiced sound corresponding to c is J written j in 
Ila books and heard in such words as njeko. 

The plosives written t and d are usually described as 
dental, but as the Ba-ila have no top front teeth it is evident 
that they can have no dental sounds. T and cl are formed 
by pressing the tongue upon the edge of the gum behind 
where the front teeth should be. 

The teeth can also have no part in forming p and b ; 
they are both bilabial sounds. 

The nasals : 

By dropping the veil of the palate the intonated current 
of b, d, and g is allowed entrance to the nose and exit there, 
and so the three nasals are formed, m, n, ij. Further, 
m as the labial nasal nasalises the labials and we get the 
compounds mp, mb, mf, mv, mw ; n nasalises the alveolars 
and palatals, hence nt, nd, ns, n\, nz, 773, nc ; q nasalises 
the velars, hence yk, *)g. n& is the sound of nk in ink ; 
tjg is the sound of ng in finger and is written simply ng 
in Ila books (tenga =tci]ga) ; while y is the sound in singer 
and is written ng in the books. The ij plays an important 
part in the morphology of Ila ; it is the resultant of n + ' 
before a, 0, and u, followed by a nasalised consonant. For 
example : 

'amba, speak ; v^ambe, let me speak, for n'ambe. 

While before a, 0, and u with no nasalised consonant 
following n + ' becomes \]g. For example : 

'ona, sleep ; rjgone, let me sleep, for n'one. 

There is a fourth nasal in Ila, ji, the sound in Italian 
campagna, a sound distinct from nj (ny) =ni in onion. 
though closely resembling it. It is formed when n is 


placed before roots beginning with 'i and 'e followed by a 
nasalised consonant. For example : 

'imba, sing ; jiim&e, let me sing, for n'imbe. 

There are really two m's in Ila : a light nasal as in map, 
e.g. mata, and a heavy nasal as in ember, e.g. imbuta. The 
latter should properly be distinguished as m. Similarly 
there are two n's, as in ine and ndapa. 

The lateral I is sounded as in English. Nasalised it 
becomes nd, e.g. Iwila, fight for ; ndwila, fight for me. 
When followed by i it is often heard as d. 

The fricatives : 

F and v are formed by the passage of the breath through 
the lips. Another bilabial fricative is the sound written 
vh in Ila books and here represented as y. The difference 
between v and v is often very difficult to detect and is not 
significant. The v is pronounced with lips more rounded 
and with a more distinct emission of the breath. 

W and j are semi- vowels. The former is the sound in 
watch ; _;' that in yet. W is often inserted in Ila words to 
separate a from a preceding u or o ; thus bo:a may also 
be written bo:wa. J is often inserted to separate i or e 
from another vowel ; thus i:i, an egg, appears as i:ji 
(iyi) ; e:a as e:ja (eya), yes. 

S and z, $ and 3, are formed by the passage of the 
breath between the tongue-tip and alveolus ; s and z are 
pronounced as in English seal and zeal ; $ is the sound of 
sh in show, and 3 that of z in azure. 

No two consonants can come together without an 
intervening vowel. This does not, of course, apply to the 
semi-vowels, w and j, and such nasal compounds as mb are 
treated as one consonant. All syllables are open and each 
word must end in a vowel. No consonant is doubled. 

The Ila vowels are : 

Back. Front. 

Close u i 

Half-close . . o e 

Half-open . g 

Open ... a a 




U is the sound in Italian uno ; that in Italian come. The 
is intermediate between 11 and 0, is pronounced with 
the back of the tongue lowered from the position and 
with the lip-opening further enlarged. It is the sound in 
Italian notte. The a is similar to the a in father, perhaps 
more like the a in French tasse. The a is not the sound in 
man, which is written phonetically ce, but a in French patte. 
The £ is the open sound of e as distinguished from the closed 
sound; it is heard in the Italian cielo (t\jp:lo). The e 
is the sound in Italian bene, French ete ; perhaps it has a 
tongue position a shade lower than cardinal e. The i is 
the sound of i in machine. 

As an illustration, we give the Lord's Prayer in Ila, 
first in the usual orthography and then in the I. P. A. script. 

1. Ushesu udi kwizeulu, nadiile izhina diako, nabuzize Buoneki 
bwako, naluchitwe luzando lwako anshi ano ubudi kwizeulu. Shidyo 
nshi tubula utupe bwasunu. Utulekelele milandu, bubona mbu 
tubalekelele kale obadi milandu kudi uswe. Utatuenzha mu 
kutepaulwa, utuvhune ku bubiabe. 

2. U'Jgisu udi kwijsi'ulu, 'naidijile i'3i:na djako, 'narbuziize 
buo'neiki bwako, 'na:luci:twe h^ando lwako, 'an/i anu ubudi 
kwi3e:'ulu. Jiidjo nji tubula utups bwa'sunu. utu'leke'lsle 
milandu, bubona mbu tuba'leke'lsle 'kale ubadi milandu kudi 
'uisws. u'ta:tuen3a mu kutepai'ulwa, utuyune ku bubi'abe. 

( : lengthens the preceding vowel ; 
the next syllable.) 

indicates stress falling on 

The tone in Ila is often very important as distinguishing 
words of different meaning ; thus the difference between 
chiwa, drought, and chiwa, the outer appearance, depends 
entirely upon the pitch of voice. Ila sentences often begin 

on a high pitch and end on a low one. The stress, if any, 
usually falls on the penultimate, but in long words there 
is also a secondary stress on the stem-vowel ; compare the 
word utu'leke' given above, where the stem is lek-. 
Monosyllables are largely treated as enclitics and draw the 
stress forward to the final syllable ; for example : amb'i.ia, 
speak to ; uambila:'nii ? Why do you speak ? The 
stress often marks difference of meaning ; for example, 
'aze, with him ; a'ze, he also. 




History of the Sounds 

The phonetic laws of the Bantu languages are very 
obscure, more obscure perhaps than those of the Indo- 
European languages. Much light has been thrown upon 
them by the researches of Meinhof, Jacottet, and Horn- 
burger, 1 and we propose here to apply some of their con- 
clusions to Ila. 

According to Meinhof the original Bantu language pos- 
sessed nine primitive consonants— three gutturals, three 
dentals, and three labials. They may be shown as follows : 

Voice — fricative 

Breath — explosive 


(Sonants — continuous). 

(Surds — explosives). 



• y 



Dentals . 

. L 



Labials . 

. v 



From these primitive consonants all the others have been 
derived, either (i) by nasalisation, or (2) by the influence 
of the vowels i and u upon the preceding consonant. 

What Ila phonemes correspond to these of the ur- 
Bantu ? We shall find out by comparing words taken 
from various Bantu languages, selecting as typical the 
Nyanja, Bemba, Kongo, Xosa, and Suto, of all of which 
there are excellent dictionaries published. The last-named 
is said by Meinhof to be " the phonetically best-known 
Bantu language." 

The primitive sound 7, a voiced guttural written g' by 
Mile. Homburger, is alveolarised in Ila into z ; that is, the 
enunciation is formed not at the back of the mouth but at 
the front. The primitive yaka, to build, becomes zaka ; yada, 
to spread, becomes zala ; yanika, to put out into the sun 
to dry, becomes zanika. In other languages the 7 becomes 
_; or ' ; thus in Nyanja we have yaka or 'aka ; in Xosa 
'aka, in Suto 'aha. In Ila we have also a number of roots 
beginning with ' which, when a nasal is placed before it, 

1 Meinhof, Grundriss einer Laut'ehre der Bantusprachen, 1899 ; 
Grundzuge einer vergleichenden Grammatik der Bantusprachen, 1906. E. 
Jacottet, Bantu Phonetics (Supplement to Christian Express ; Lovedale, 
S. Africa, 1907). L. Homburger, F.tude sur la phonetique historique 
du Banlou (Paris, 1914). In this section the writer closely follows Jacottet, 
who was his first teacher in Bantu studies. 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 283 

reverts to the original 7 and is shown as g ; for example, 
'ala becomes i\]gala ; 'ulube becomes i\]gnlube ; 'oma 
becomes i\)goma. 

The original dental represented by Meinhof as / and by 
Mile. Homburger as d, appears as / in Ila, as also in Nyanja, 
Bemba, Xosa, Suto, and Kongo ; thus lata, lie down, has 
the same form in these and most Bantu languages. 

The original fricative bilabial v is the plosive bilabial b 
in Ila, so vala, to count, becomes in Ila bala, which is the 
common Bantu form, except in languages such as Nyanja 
and Bemba, where it becomes the peculiar w, a sound 
between our v and w, formed by the teeth and lower 

K remains firm in the languages we are comparing, 
except in Suto, where it is h ; so we have kama, to squeeze, 
to milk, in all the five = Suto, hama ; kala, to sit, in Ila, (^ 
Nyanja, and Kongo ; kanda, to knead, in Ila, Nyanja, and 
Bemba. In Ila as in Xosa the k is followed by a slight 
aspirate (k') when in the first syllable of the stem. 

The ur-Bantu breathed dental has also persisted in 
these languages except Suto, where it is r ; thus the word ^. 

for "three" is -tatwe in Ila, and -tatu in Nyanja, Bemba, 
Xosa, and Kongo, and -raro in Suto ; and " my father " is 
tata in Ila, tate in Nyanja, tatu in Bemba and Kongo. 

The ur-Bantu breathed plosive labial is p in Ila, Nyanja, 
Bemba, and Xosa, and / in Suto ; as pa, to give (Suto fa) ; 
pala, to scrape. In Kongo it becomes v : vana, give ; 
vala, scrape ; that is, the breathed phoneme becomes a 
voiced. In Ila the initial p of words often disappears ; thus 
the common locative pa becomes 'a. A curious feature of 
Ila is the presence of double forms, such as 'a\]gika and 
pa\]gika, which both represent the more archaic pa\]geha, 
to hang up. 

These comparisons show that in all but one of these 
languages the "original breathed phonemes have remained 
plosives ; the voiced phonemes have mostly remained 
fricatives, with a tendency to become plosives, e.g. v 
becomes b. The other language, Suto, does not show the 
same steadiness, for the breathed phonemes become fricative, 
i.e. p becomes /. The voiced phonemes have remained 


voiced, and the breathed have remained breathed, except in 
the instance given from Kongo. 

These, then, according to Meinhof, are the primitive 
Bantu consonants from which all the consonants in the 
modern dialects have been derived. The distinction between 
voiced and breathed phonemes in the table given above is 
of great importance, for the sounds derived from the one 
are quite distinct from those derived from the other. As 
Jacottet says, the distinction is " one of the most important 
phonetic features of Bantu speech." 

The derived sounds are produced (1) by nasalisation, 
i.e. by the influence of a nasal upon the following consonant, 
and (2) by vocal influence, i.e. by the influence of the vowels 
i and u upon the preceding consonant. 

The nasalisation of the primitive ur-Bantu phonemes 
probably gave the following results : 

Voiced. Breathed. 

n +l = nd n +t=nt 

m+v=mb m+p=mp 

The nasal is guttural before a guttural ; dental n before a 
dental ; labial m before a labial. The voiced fricatives 
7, I, v become plosives ; the breathed plosives k, t, p 
remain plosives. 

Except in Suto the results of nasalisation in these 
languages are the same as in ur-Bantu ; but the original 
7 having become z or ' in Ila, the qg appears as nz, as well as, 
sometimes, i]g. These results are very different from what 
we get in Suto where ij + 7 = & ; n + l = t; m + v = p ; ij + & 
= kh; n + t = th; n+p=ph) that is, the voiced fricatives 
have become breathed plosives, and the breathed plosives 
have become aspirated plosives, and the nasal usually 
disappears when the stem is not monosyllabic. Hence the 
Ila i\]kani is the same as the Suto khar}. In Ila and Xosa, 
instead of qg we often have ji ; e.g. mu-jiati, or ijiati, a 
buffalo. In Xosa we may have ji corresponding to Ila nz, 
i]\oka = inzoka. The words in Suto are nare, buffalo; 
noha, snake. The law governing this change is very obscure. 

There are two principles which appear universal in the 




Bantu languages : (1) that nasalisation never causes a 
consonant to change from one articulation class into another, 
that is, labials remain labials when nasalised, gutturals 
remain gutturals, dentals remain dentals ; (2) that the 
phonemes which were voiced fricatives become plosives 
after nasalisation. There is a third principle which applies 
in Ila and some other languages, namely, that the nasalised 
phonemes produced from the voiced fricatives are sharply 
distinguished from those produced from the breathed 
plosives. In some languages ij + 7 and ij + k both produce 
rjg ; n + l and n + t both produce nd ; and rn + v and m + p 
both produce nib. 

In Ila nasalisation accompanies morphological change, 
that is, when the morphons in-, im-, n-, and m- are prefixed 
to roots. Im-, in- are used to form nouns and adjectives 
of classes 8, singular and plural, and 9, plural ; m and n 
represent the personal pronoun " me," or in the subjunctive 
mood of the verb, " I." Here are some examples : 

From the root 'anda i\]anda, a house = in-'anda 

bona imboni, pupil of eye = im-boni 
pela impezho, brush = im-pezho 

limi indimi, tongues = in-limi 

lemeka, honour ; wa-ndemeka, he honours me. < 
zaka, build ; make, let me build, that I may build. 

When these morphons are placed before stems beginning 
with b and / which already contain a nasalised consonant, 
the b and / are changed into m and n respectively. It is 
as if the so-called "heavy" nasals m and n would not 
tolerate in the same word another heavy nasal. For 
example : 

bamba, to arrange ; ba-mmambila, they arrange for me = bambambila 
lumba, to praise ; ba-nnumba, they praise me = banlnmba. 

From the root -banza : immanza, courtyards = imbanza. 

It is a matter of instinctive economy of effort. 

Another use of nasalisation in Ila is worth mention- 
ing here. It expresses often the grammatical copula ; 
for example, buzani is " meat," bobn buzani, this meat, 
bobu mbuzani, this is meat. In the case of nouns of the 
in- class the copula is formed with n-, e.g. i\]ombe, a head of 
cattle, ni\)ombe, it is a beast. 


&7 & 


The changes of mu into um, and of n(i) into in are of 
frequent occurrence in Ila ; one hears umbwa, dog, for 
mubwa ; ndombona ( = ndaumbona) for nda-mu-bona ; and 
ulenta (u-la-inta) you call me, for u-la-nita. U resembles m 
in its place of articulation, just as i resembles n ; and when, 
as happens, m and n are pronounced so like vowels as to 
cause the disappearance of the vowel following them, the 
prolongation of the sound becomes um, in. In some 
languages the change uniformly takes place in the noun 
prefix mu, which then appears as um- or m-. This prefix 
coming to stand immediately before the initial consonant 
of the stem produces what is termed " improper nasalisa- 
tion," the effects of which are sometimes very different 
from those of " true " nasalisation, with which we have 
been dealing. In Ila the prefix before consonants other 
than b always preserves its form mu-, and so this " improper 
nasalisation " does not enter. 

We have so far accounted for ten Ila phonemes, viz. 
z, d, b, k, t, p, i], ji, n, and m. We have now to deal with 
the others, which are mostly fricatives. These can be shown 
to derive from the primitive sounds through the influence 
of vowels and semi- vowels. 

Of the three primitive Bantu vowels, a, i, u, a does not, 
it seems, have any part to play in producing other sounds. 
/ and u cause many changes, and still more when they 
become y and w. Meinhof recognised the presence of two 
" heavy " vowels which cause changes often very different 
from those caused by the ordinary i and u. 

Meinhof also came to the conclusion that in the proto- 
Bantu there were sounds, not primitive in the same degree 
with those we have been considering, which were due to 
the palatisation, under the influence of the semi-vowel j (y), 
of the primitive guttural sounds k and 7, and probably 
also of the dentals t and /. We may write these mixed 
sounds 7', V , k', and f, two being voiced fricatives and 
two breathed plosives ; nasalised they become ijg', nd' , 

nk', nV . 

What Ila sounds correspond to these mixed phonemes ? 
The 7' has become iz, that is, z modified by the vowel 





0» y\K 

sound i. For example, we have in Tla izula, to be full, 
iza, to come ; which correspond to dzala and dza in 
Nyanja, isula and isa in Bemba, tlala and tla in Suto, and 
zala and za in Xosa. Nasalised, the sound is inz in Ila, e.g. 
ni-inzuzhe, let me fill, n-inze, let me come. 

The k' has become ik in Ila, corresponding to ik in 
Nyanja and Bemba and hi (l) in Suto and Xosa, as shown 
in these words: leka, for la-ika, (Ila, Nyanja, Bemba) = - 
lahla (Suto, Xosa), to reject; ikala (Ila. etc.) =hlala (Suto, 
Xosa), to stay. 

The t' becomes s in Ila ; thus sanwe (Ila), sanu (Nyanja, 
Bemba), nve = hlano, hlanu (Suto, Xosa). In ur-Bantu, 

The V in ur-Bantu is represented in Ila by dy ; dya, 
eat = /ya (Bemba), dia (Nyanja), ja (Suto), dla (Xosa). 

What we have just said, however, does not exhaust the 
matter, for sometimes the V becomes ts in Suto, sh in Bemba, 
j in Nyanja, and zh (3) in Ila, as is shown by the words for 
"road" : tsela, in-shira, n-jira, in-zhila = Xosa, indhlela ; and 
the k' appears, not as hi but as ths in Suto (thseha, to 
laugh), and not as ik but as s in Ila, Bemba, and Nyanja 
(seka, to laugh = Xosa, hleka). This is apparently due to 
the influence of the vowel i or e. And that there is still 
something to learn is shown by these other correspondences: 
Ila, chaba = Suto, tshaba = ~Kosa., hloba, to rise (of the sun) ; 
ur-Bantu, k'aba. 

The same Ila phoneme ch (c) has been produced by the 
influence on the primitive k of the vowel i ; e.g. mu-chila, a 
tail (Nyanja, mchila, Bemba, umu-chira) = Suto, mo-sela; f hwV 
Xosa, um-sila. In Swahili the original k has been preserved, 

The semi-vocal i and u, i.e. y and w, cause certain 
changes which chiefly affect the gutturals and labials. 

Thus the ur-Bantu kya, to dawn, is in Ila cha (so in 
Nyanja and Bemba) = Suto and Xosa, sa. The primitive 
Pya, to burn, retains its form in Ila, Bemba, and Nyanja 
= tsha in Xosa and Suto. 

The " heavy " vowels i and u are now only recognisable 
in a few languages like Suto ; in most of the others they 
have become exactly homophonous to the primitive i and 

S>e^f '^/iHv , 




PT. V 




u. They are probably the result of a blending of i (or y) 
and u (w) with i. It was the presence of these vowels in 
Suto that led Meinhof to the conclusion that many obscure 
phonetic changes in the modern Bantu languages were due 
to the presence in the ur-Bantu of such heavy vowels. 

The primitive <yi becomes zhi (si) in Ila (munzhi, a 
village), zi in Xosa (umzi), tse in Suto (motse), dzi in Nyanja 
(mudzi), and shi in Bemba. So, again, Ila menzhi, water 
= Xosa amanzi, Suto metsi, Nyanja madzi, Bemba amenshi. 

Li is also represented in Ila by zhi (si) (imbuzhi, a 
goat), zi in Xosa (imbuzi) li ( = di) in Suto, {poli), zi or dzi in 
Nyanja (mbuzi), and shi in Bemba (imbushi). So again, Ila 
izhiba, a pool = Xosa isiziba, Suto seliba ( = sediba), Nyanja 
dziwe, Bemba icishiba. 

Vi is also represented by zhi (&) in Ila (zhimba, hide, 
cover up), by vi in Xosa (vimba, shut up), by bi in Suto 
(bipa, hide), by vi in Nyanja (vimba, to thatch), and by fi 
in Bemba (fimba, thatch). 

Ki has become shi (\i) in Ila (bushi, smoke, cf. buka, 
to rise), si in Xosa and Suto (umsi, mosi), tsi in Nyanja 
(utsi), and shi in Bemba (ichushi), 

Ti again is shi in Ila and Xosa (shiya, to leave), si in 
Suto (siea), shy in Bemba (shy a), and sj in Nyanja (sia). 

Pi also is shi in Ila (ishishi, dimness),/ in Suto (lefifi, 
darkness) ,y£ in Xosa (ubufifi, dimness), y£ in Nyanja (chimfimfi, 
secret) and fi in Bemba (imfifi, darkness) . 

Thus we see the remarkable fact that in Ila the primitive 
voiced fricatives with the heavy vowel i are all represented 
by 'hi (zhi), and the breathed plosives by \i (shi). The 
primitive sounds have been assibilated. Probably the 
removal of the front teeth has had much to do with this ; 
certainly the first impression one has on hearing Ila spoken 
is that it is made up of shi's and zhi's. 

When i becomes semi-vocal (y) other changes are pro- 
duced. They may be seen when the causative suffix ya 
(ur-Bantu, ya) is added to the verbs. 

In Ila when ya is suffixed to verbs whose stems end in 
I the resultant is zha (ha), e.g. katala, to be tired, becomes 
katazha, to make tired. In Xosa it becomes za (katala, kataza) , 
in Suto tsa (khathala, khathatsa) ; in Nyanja it is tsa, pre- 





ceded, however, by a vocal element that is written e when 
the stem-vowel is 0, and i when it is a, e.g. ola, to be rotten, 
oletsa, to make rotten ; ala, spread, alitsa, help, or 
cause to spread. In Ila the corresponding words are bola, 
bozha ; zala, zazha. In Bemba the ya becomes shy a, e.g. 
bola, boshya. 

The primitive vy is also zh (3) in Ila ; e.g. from samba, 
to wash oneself, is formed sanzha, to wash (clothes). In 
Xosa it is z (hlamba, hlanza) ; in Suto tsw (hlapa, hlatswa) ; 
(i)ts in Nyanja (samba, sambitsa) ; and in Bemba by (samba, 
sambya) . 

The primitive ky becomes sh (\) in Ila ; thus by adding 
ya to buka, to rise, we get busha, cause to rise. In 
Xosa it is s (vuka, vusa). In Suto it is also s (tsoha, tsosa) ; 
in Nyanja ts (dzuka, dzutsa), and in Bemba it is shy (shibuka, 

Ty is also sh in Ila ; thus we get chisha, cause to do, 
from chita, to do. In Nyanja this word appears as 
chitsa from chita ; and in Bemba chishya from chita. The 
stem does not seem to be found in Suto and Xosa, so we 
may take another example ; in Xosa we have ambesa 
formed from ambata, which words appear in Suto as apesa, 
from apara. 

Py in Ila does not as a rule change into sh but remains 
as in the ur-Bantu ; thus the causative of papa, to be 
shrunken, is papy a. In Nyanja py appears as (i)tsa (papa, 
papitsa) ; in Bemba also it is py a (papa, papya). There are, 
however, instances in Ila of py becoming sh, e.g. lansha, to 
make sharp, from lampa, to be sharp. ■ 

We get much the same results in Ila from the influence 
of y as we got from i ; under their influence the primitive 
voiced fricatives all become the voiced fricative 3 and the 
primitive breathed plosives become the breathed fricative $. 

\nr£e. x 



A 1A A ^ 

yi, h, vi\ 
ly, vyj 

ki, ti, pi\ _ . 

ky.ty, pyi =] ' 

It will be noticed that the changes produced under the 
influence of i are different from those produced by i ; thus 
ki-chi ; ki= It. 

We now come to changes wrought by u and w. 

vol. 11 u 



PT. V 




The original Bantu 7W has become vu in Ila (e.g. muzovu, 
an elephant), and the same in Nyanja (njovu) and Xosa 
(indlovu). It is/w in Bemba (insofu) and ^ in Suto (tlou). 

The M of ur-Bantu is vu in Ila, vu in Xosa, /w in Suto, 
e.g. Ila vumina, to agree = Xosa, vumela, consent = Suto, 

Vu becomes vu in Ila (imvula, rain) and Xosa (imvula), 
pu in Suto (pula), bvu or vu in Nyanja (mbvula or mvula), and 
/w- in Bemba (infula). Compare also Ila vukuta, work the 
bellows = Nyanja bvukuta, Bemba fukuta. 

The ur-Bantu M has become /w in all these five languages, 
e.g. Ila, Xosa, Nyanja, Bemba, fumbata = Suto fupara, to 
close the fist. 

Tu is also/w in Ila and Xosa, e.g.fua=fuya, to possess ; 
in Suto it is ru (rua, possess). In Nyanja it is pfu and 
in Bemba fu ; Xosa funda, to learn = Suto ruta, to 
teach = Bemba funda = Nyanja pfunitsa. 

Pu becomes fu in Ila, Suto and Xosa, pu in Nyanja and 
Bemba ; compare the root in the words " to blow " "to 
breathe": Ila, fula ; Suto, phefumuloha; Xosa, pefumla ; 
Nyanja, puma; Bemba, umupu, breath. 

We see then that the primitive voiced phonemes + u 
(i.e. <yu, lu, vu) are all represented in Ila by the same, viz. 
vu or vu, and the primitive breath plosives + u (ku, tu, pu) 
by fu. The voiced phonemes are represented by a voiced 
phoneme, the breathed by a breathed. 

When u becomes semi-vocal (w) much the same changes 
are produced in Ila as those we have just described. 

Thus the ur-Bantu IS becomes v in Ila (vwa, to go out) ; 
in Xosa it is v (vela), in Suto tsw (tswa), in Nyanja low (Iowa), 

Kw becomes fw in Ila (fwa, to die) and Bemba (fwa), 
f in Xosa (fa) , shw in Suto (shwa) . 

With two exceptions we have now traced the origin of 
all the Ila consonants given in the table on p. 278. The 
exceptions are J and h. Neither of them is a common sound 
in Ila ; J is formed by the nasalisation of y, thus=j^, to 
go, nje, that 1 go ; and also when n is affixed to verbal 
stems beginning with i which do not contain another nasal : 
ita, to pass, njite, that 1 pass. The aspirate h is heard 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 291 

in some parts of the country, e.g. among the Balundwe, in 
place of $ ; they say, for example, hakahina for \aka\ina. 
It is heard, too, instead of v ; huluma for vuhima (Bemba, 
bulimia), to growl. Other words in which it occurs are 
foreign, e.g. hola, to earn. 

2. Word Formation 

The rudimentary germs of the Ila language are mono- 
sonants, i.e. sounds capable of separate pronunciation, 
whether represented by a vowel, semi-vowel, or consonant. 
If now we take the consonants given in the table on 
p. 278, and fit each one with the five chief vowels, in the 
manner following 

pa pe pi po pu 

we shall have a list of 115 monosyllables. These can be 
modified by nasalising the initial consonant or by the 
insertion of the semi-vowels w and 3' — what is called "mouth- 
ing." Thus : 


























This gives a further list of potential monosyllables, making 
with the former 485 in all. Ila does not make use of all of 
these, but probably 400, and it is not too much to say 
that they are the materials out of which the vocabulary 
is made. 

A large number of these syllables are used alone with 
more or less definite meanings ; there are, for example, 
such particles as pe, no. The first column contains many 
monosyllabic verbs, used as imperatives without any 
modification ; e.g. pa, give ; dya, eat. These nasalised 
gain the added signification of the first person personal 
pronoun ; mpa, give me. The corresponding forms in the 
second column, ending in e, are jussive and subjunctive ; 
mpe, let me give, (that) I give. The same forms ending in 
i are negative and require an auxiliary particle, t'a pi, he 


does not give. Others of these monosyllables are pronominal 
suffixes : nda, ndi, ndu, I, twa, tu, we, etc. Others again are 
tense formatives, chi, ka, la, etc. Others are nominal roots, 
needing only a prefix to define them ; e.g. -bwa, -twi, from 
which are formed mu-hwa, a dog, ku-twi, an ear. The 
great majority of the monosyllables can come together in 
pairs to make verbal base-words, ma-na, mi-na, me-na, 
mu-na, etc., to which other monosyllables, as formatives, 
may be added. So from these four hundred or so syllables, 
by a process of agglutination, a vocabulary of at least 
fifteen thousand words is formed. 

In addition to the uses of the monosyllables just 
mentioned there is another, which, as it is one of the most 
remarkable features of Ila, it will be worth while to illustrate 

Many of these monosyllables are holophrastic. They 
stand entirely alone, conveying a definite meaning, or, with 
modification of stress and tone, a variety of meanings. 
Or they may stand closely connected with verbs, whose 
signification they serve to extend, define, or emphasise, 
without the connection being at all necessary to their own 
being. They are somewhat of a puzzle to grammarians, for 
they stand outside the conventional parts of speech. They 
have been termed ' ' inter j ections, ' ' ' ' onomatopoeic vocables, ' ' 
"onomatopoeic substantives," "descriptive adverbs," but, 
properly speaking, they are a new part of speech. Whatever 
they may be called they are certainly the most interesting 
feature of a Bantu language, and have been all too rarely 
and insufficiently studied. It may well be, as Mr. Madan 1 
thinks, that in them we have the ultimate elements of 
speech — the survivals of the earliest form which human 
language assumed. They stand midway between the 
gesture and the articulated sentence. We might indeed 
call them spoken gestures, conveying in sound the impression 
given by a motion of the arm or a movement of the lips. 
They are commonly accompanied by their proper gestures. 
They are very numerous in Ila. There is hardly a sound, 

1 A. C. Madan, Living Speech in Central and South Africa, 191 1. The 
writer had studied these particles closely long before Mr. Madan wrote 
this stimulating book, but he owes to it many suggestions. 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 293 

action, movement, sensation but has its expressive descrip- 
tive particle. They are usually monosyllabic, but often 
the monosyllable is repeated or is combined with another. 

Let us take some examples. 

Mba ! expresses falling headlong to the ground. 
Muntu wawa, a person falls, is a tame generalised phrase. 
How does he fall ? That is what the Mwila, with his vivid 
appreciation of fact, desires to know. Does he fall lightly, 
heavily, or how ? Wawa mba ! There is no mistaking 
that, even if no swift vertical motion of the arm accom- 
panies it. He falls headlong. But there is no need to 
make a grammatical sentence of it. Mba ! expresses all 
you want to say. 

Mbo ! is another kind of falling. You can see the 
person in the act as the native says, Mbo ! mbo ! mbo ! 
mbo ! with a lowered intonation on the last syllable. He 
falls gradually, easily, noatingly. 

Mbwa ! is the action of falling heavily, wearily, flopping 
down on a bed or chair. It is expressed still more vividly 
as Mbwa ! mbwala ! mbwa ! 

The word wa, the ordinary verbal word for " fall," is 
descriptive of continual pattering as of the rain — Wa ! wa ! 
wa ! wa ! 

There is in one of the tales in a later chapter a very 
expressive representation of the falling of Tortoise from 
a very great height : Pididi, pididi, pididi ! How could 
you express that in English ? Here it comes, rolling over 
and over, unhasting, down inevitably, inexorably — down ! 
It is all there in the Ila phrase. 

Ti ! expresses striking the ground. You may say 
Ndamuchina anshi (" I throw him down "), but it is much 
easier and more trenchant to say simply Ti I, and it means 
the same. ' The spear thrown comes to a rest in the ground 
short of its target " — you can say it all by Ti ! Nor is there 
any confusion in actual usage ; in the one case and the 
other the context is sufficient to show what you are talking 

Tel is " tearing," the sharp rending of a thin dry skin 
or piece of calico. Hence, as rending means that the thing 
is divided, perhaps ended, you can say of a case in 


court, a lengthy discussion or argument, Amana te ! 
(" The affair is finished ! ") or simply, Te ! 

To-o ! with the vowel drawn out expresses quiet, 
peacefulness. Tontolo t-o-o ! (" All is calm ! "). Wi ! and 
Ne-e ! express different shades of the same thing. The 
line of the hymn " Peace, perfect peace " is translated in 
Ila Ne-e, pele ne-e. 

Tu ! is spurting or pouring or ejection, according to 
the pronunciation. With a short vowel, Tuh ! it repre- 
sents a gun going off ; Tu tu ! is spurting ; Ntu-u ! is 
pouring water from a pot. 

Pi ! is the sensation of heat ; Lu ! the sensation of 
bitterness ; Bu-u ! that of sourness — the restringency 
caused by a lemon, for example. Lwe ! is the sensation 
of sweetness; 'Lwe! lwe! lwe! lwe!" a Mwila will say 
on tasting a lump of sugar. 

Mbi ! expresses darkness, blackness. When a Mwila 
says Mbi ! mbi ! mbi ! mbi ! what he means is, ' It is 
altogether and entirely dark, pitch-black, with not a ray 
of light anywhere." 

Mi ! is " drinking " and Mu ! " sucking." Mi ! uttered 
as a command means " Down with it ! Swallow it all ! ' 
Mu! means 'Go on sucking, don't chew it!' Mo I 
expresses the action of shedding off, peeling. You may say 
of a leper, Chinsenda chamumonkaola (" The leprosy causes 
his flesh to peel off "), but you can say all you want to say 
by using Mo ! mo ! 

Ka ! gives the idea of firmness, tightness. Ka ! you 
say after driving home a roof-pole : " It is firmly in, it won't 
move ! ' Nka ! describes the action of striking ; Nka ! 
nka ! nka ! nka ! (" Thump ! thump ! thump ! thump ! "). 

Di ! is the sound of footsteps. Didi didi means " Listen ! 
here they come ! ' Ndo ! is a rumbling sound, and Ndu ! a 
dull thudding sound ; Ndi ! is a reverberating sound. AW / 
ndi ! ndi .' ndi ! is thunder reverberating in the distance. 

Pyu ! expresses redness (" How red ! Altogether red ! "). 
Hit ! expresses whiteness. 

It is needless further to multiply instances. The reader 
will now appreciate, perhaps, the extraordinary vividness, 
given to conversation by such particles. 

ck. xxv. '1*111' II A I ANt.H \'.l •» j 

We have in languages nearer home expressions thai 
may remind us of these. One recalls the French comedy 
the heroine of which was Mademoiselle Frou frou, so named 
in. m the rustle of hei silk skirts, We have borrowed the 
wind iKnii tiu 1 Krcnch and have many similai expressions 
oi our own. When the [talian says Andava torno tomo he 

is ii .in,:; .1 phrase exaetly like the I hi Wccmla Inuro zhitlgO 

(•• Hewenl meandering about.") Bui thai phrase represents 
a furthei development "I the germs we have beendisi ussing ; 
il is well on I lie way i<> 1 > « • i 1 1 / ■ ;i regulai adverb. In Hebrew 
we such expressions as lutirouph touvciph ("rending he 
has been rent") where we have lirsl the infinitive verb 
Hollowed by the same verb conjugated. The Ba ila have 
precisely the same eonstrm lion, I >i 1 1 once again I he phrases 
we have described are in <|in!c .i different category. I here 
is nothing of articulated speech aboul them; lliey are 
interjectory as Whew! is interjectory, but they are some 
thing more. We may Say they are eehoisms, but they 
echo mil only natural sounds as Nl;a! echoes the sound 
of a hammer but also, and more often, the sensation 
caused id the mind by outside things. I'yul is evidently 
not .in ordinary echoism ; it does not repeal anything 
heard as the onomatopes, of which there are plenty in lla, 
do ; it represents the immediate pen ept ol redness. I here 
is a word for " red," subihi : we can trace its history, know 
exactly what il means, put il into its place in ;i sentence ; 
it is just an ordinary conventional sign. I'yit ! is also eon 
ventional in the sense thai it has been handed down, bu1 
there is something natural and immediate about it thai sit hi hi 
has not . 

It is tempting to see in these particles the genus out 

of which the extensive [la vocabulary has developed. i i > 

there any indication <»l their being ultimate mots ? 

Many of these particles, like zhingo zhingo, are intimately 
con nee led wit h fully formed verbs. I hey consisl in repeal 
ing all or some of the syllables oJ the verb with perhaps 
an altered and si ressed final vowel to give emphasis, I hus ! 

( halemana lemani ' How heavy il is so very heavy ! 

Chabota boti I How delicious it is so delicious I 

( hachisa chisi I How painful it is so painful in< leei l ! 

«Jto Irrfo 


Very evidently these are not on the same footing with the 
others ; they are probably modern derivations from the 

In another category we -can place the onomatopoeic 
words. The Ba-ila aptly describe the flying of the goose 
as sekwe sekwe ! imitating the sound of its wings ; and 
the bird is named nachisekwe. They imitate the cry of 
the crested crane by o-ane and name the bird namuoane. 
These are evidently true onomatopes. 

Besides these there are many verbs which we should 
say have been formed from the particles rather than that 
the particles have come from ■ the verbs. From Iwe we 
have the verb Iwela, to be sweet ; from mi we have mina, 
to swallow ; from nka we have kankamina, to hammer ; 
ndi ! ndi ! ndi ! which stands for a reverberating sound, is 
reproduced in the noun indindima, distant thunder. And so 
on. An illuminating word in this connection is Chimbu- 
ndungu. The first syllable is simply a formative, chi, 
which, as often, gives the general idea of " time." Mbu ! 
describes the break of day ; bushiku mbu, or simply mbu ! 
means " the day has dawned." Ndu is not only, as we 
have seen, a thudding sound, but with a varied intonation, 
mistiness, haziness,- twilight ; ngu is expressive of emerging 
from within; Wavhwa ngu! ("He comes out"). These 
syllables put together, chi-mbu-ndu-ngu , mean " the time 
at break of day, while it is still twilight, when you come 
out of your house," and that is precisely the sense in which 
the word is used to-day. 

Now Mr. Madan's theory, if we understand him aright, 
is that the vocabularies of the Bantu languages have been 
formed in this way ; that these expressive monosyllables 
were the germs of speech, that the process of language 
consists in adding one syllable to another, thus increasing 
and varying the meaning, and that the first syllable, or 
the initial consonant, of a word retains the root-meaning, 
all others being formative. 

If this attractive theory were true we should expect 
that the various Bantu languages would show some measure 
of agreement in the words whose first syllables are identical. 
And if the root-meanings survive in the descriptive par- 

ch. xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 297 

tides still in use, we might expect some agreement in regard 
to them also. That is to say, if the original speakers said 
Za ! as the Ba-ila say it to-day, to express breaking, split- 
ting, rending, we should expect za to show with some such 
meaning throughout the Bantu field. There should be, 
in other words, some permanence of root-meaning. As a 
matter of fact, the Bantu did not say Za ! for z is, as we 
saw, not a primitive sound. What they must have said is 
ya ! which becomes ya in Nyanja, Bemba, and Kongo. 
Let us refer to the excellent dictionaries of those languages. 
In Nyanja we find these words : 

yala, arrange, spread out. 

yamba, begin. 

yambakata, spread out upon the ground. 

yandama, float. 

yanika, spread. 

yangalala, be spread out. 

yanja, spread over. 

The idea common to these words is that of " spreading." 
In Bemba we get these words : 

ya, expand, grow. 

yaka, catch fire. 

yanika, spread out in the sun. 

yankula, catch up a chorus. 

yaula, yawn. 

Again, the idea of spreading. 
In Kongo we get : 

yaluka, migrate. 

y alula, roll up (something that has been spread). 

yalumuka, spread out. 

yahimima, expand. 

yambana, be placed upon (used of something spreading). 

yanda, spread and peg out. 

yangama, float. 

yanga, spread out in the sun. 

Once again, spreading. 

Now take the Ila words : 

zaka, catch fire. 
zala, spread out. 
zamba, bind. 


zambukila, be contagious. 

zamnka, migrate. 

zandala, grow, spread out. 

zangadika, be a vagabond. 

zanzala, stir up grain spread out to dry. 

zazambe, an endless thing. 

Running all through these words there is the idea of " spread- 
ing," and as the one syllable common to all is za or ya, 
which represents an original ya, we may, if it is legitimate 
to judge from these four representative languages, con- 
clude that ya is an original root with that meaning, and 
that the extended significations have been given by the 
added syllables. But when we inquire what the Ba-ila 
mean to-day by za, we find that it is not spreading but 
bursting, tearing asunder. When, for example, the cattle 
burst through the cattle enclosure, they say Za ! Of 
course we may say that there is some connection between 
the two ideas ; when cattle break through they spread 
out. The verb corresponding is zapuka, burst, split, be 
torn, and we might say, perhaps, that the second syllable 
gives that special meaning, for po ! conveys the sense of 
" appearing through " (cf. Bemba, lepuka, burst), so that the 
word might signify "be in a state (ka) of spreading (za) 
through (pu)." 

We might, if space allowed, go through other syllables 
and determine their meaning by comparison in the four 
languages. We should find that pa has the root idea of 
putting together, causing to adhere, giving, increasing, 
filling ; pe that of light motion, winnowing, grinding, 
skimming, spinning ; pi that of rolling, twisting, wring- 
ing, folding ; pu that of separation, stripping, cutting, 
threshing, aborting, uprooting. We should find that ka 
expresses the idea of hardness, tightness, firmness ; he 
that of cutting, depriving, decreasing. Ta gives the idea 
of extension, from one to another, one place to another, 
growing, also of rending, splitting ; te that of looseness, 
shaking, slipping, swinging, quivering, creaking ; ti that 
of tenseness, flexibility ; to that of piercing, ramming. 

We might conclude from these facts that there is much 
to be said for the view that the root meaning of Bantu 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 299 

words is contained in their first syllable. Or perhaps, 
more correctly, we should say in the consonant of the first 
syllable. 1 As to the so-called interjections in everyday- 
use by the Bantu representing these primitive germs of 
speech, we can only say that as far as we have studied the 
matter we do not find that identity between them that 
the theory would seem to demand. Ka, it is true, as a 
root means " firm," and on the lips of the people it has 
that meaning as an exclamation ; but pi, which as a root 
means " rolling" or " twisting," as an exclamation means 
" hot." Of course we have to make allowances for changes, 
for conventionalising, during the two thousand or so years 
since the Bantu migrated from their original home. The 
subject would repay more extended study. 

Formation of the Verb 

Let us now leave these interesting speculations and 
get back to the firmer ground of plain fact. 

Ila has properly three parts of speech : Verb, Noun, 
and Particle. 

It is an agglutinative language. Its words are formed 
by adding one syllable to another, each of which brings 
an added signification to the whole. These syllables may 
be divided into (1) basic, (2) formative. Thus to take an 
example: Chintamwizhi ("I did not know him"). The 
base upon which it is formed is izhi, the shortened form 
of the verb, izhiba, to know. Chi is a tense particle ; 
n represents nda =1 ; ta is a negative particle, "not"; 
mw =mu the accusative pronoun " him." 

Take another example : 

W a-ka-ba-sasidild-nzhi ? 
Thou-didst-them-sew-for-for-what ? 

Here the root element is sas ; all else is formative. 
Learning Ila resolves itself into gaining an intimate 
acquaintance with these formative elements, their right 

1 This brings us back, of course, to Plato, who observed that p is 
expressive of motion, the letters 5 and t of binding and rest, the letter 
X of smoothness, c of inwardness, etc. (Jowett's translation of The 
Dialogues of Plato, vol. i. p. 311). 


use, the minute shades of meaning they convey, their 
correct order in making the word. 

Most 11a verbs in their simplest form are disyllabic. 
Hundreds are formed by the simple coupling of the mono- 
syllables given on p. 291. Thus : kamba, kemba, kimba, 
komba, kumba. Indeed the writer, when learning the 
language, speculated by forming scores of words on this 
model and then seeking their meaning. He did not often 
draw a blank. One felt there should be -such words, and 
there were. 

The final a is properly a formative, so that, e.g., kamb 
is the base-word. The formatives may be prefixes or post- 
fixes, but whatever is added this base-word remains in- 
variable, except that occasionally assimilation causes a 
change in the vowel ; you cannot take it to pieces and 
add letters to it as you can to the triliteral roots of Arabic. 
You may, as we have just been doing, go behind it in the 
endeavour to discover the ultimate meaning of the syllables 
ka-mb{a), but for all practical purposes kamb is a root. 
There are some monosyllabic roots, but they are excep- 
tional ; the normal Ila root is on the form : consonant + 
vowel + consonant. Any further syllables, whether their 
meaning can be determined or not, are formatives. 

We may represent the verb in this way : 

Prefixes. Postfixes. 

Tense (negative) 



Voice (exceptional) j 


Root \ Tense (exceptional) 
I Mood 

The Ila noun always stands in apposition and is represented 
by a pronominal suffix to the verb, as if we said " John he- 
eats." The object may be represented also by a prefix 
inserted between the subject and the verbal root, just as in 
Italian Io vi do ("I give you ") = ndamapa ; only in Ila 
it is written as one word. 

The tenses of the Ila verb are very numerous; more 
have been made out since the Ila Handbook was published. 
All of them but one are formed by means of suffixes ; the 
exception is the perfect, a tense that is different from the 




others in that it has something of an adjectival significance. 
These are some of the chief tenses of the verb, kubona, 
to see : 


(J* = Simple stem, bona. 


(1) Adjectival 

(2) General 

Tense Sign. 

2. Presents. 

(1) Imperfect 

(2) Perfect 

3. Pasts. 

(1) General 

(2) Imperfect 

(3) Pluperfect 
4. Futures. 




-di-mu-ftu-f ■ 















f — Modified stem, iwene.) 

i. tu-bona — we (who) see. 

2. tu-bwene — we (who) have seen. 

3. tw-a-bona — we see (saw, have 

seen, etc.). 

4. tw-a-chi-bona — we continue seeing. 

5. tw-a-ya-bu-bona — we are engaged 

in seeing. 

6. tu-di-mu-ku-bona — we are seeing. 

7. tu-chi-bona — we continue seeing. 

8. lu-la-bona — we are constantly 

(usually, certainly) seeing. 

9. tu-la-ya-bu-bona — we are being 

engaged in seeing. 

10. tu-la-ya-ku-bona — we are habitu- 

ally in the act of seeing. 

11. tu-di-bwene — we have seen. 

12. tu-chi-bwene — we have been seeing. 

13. tw-a-ka-bona — we saw. 

14. tw-a-ka-chi-bona — we continued 


15. tw-a-ka-ya-bu-bo'na — we were en- 

gaged in seeing. 

16. ka-tu-bona — we saw. 

17. ka-tu-bwene — we did see. 

18. tw-a-ku-bona — we were seeing. 

19. tw-a-ku-chi-bona — we were con- 

tinuing to see. 

20. tw-a-ku-ya-bu-bona — we were en- 

gaged in seeing 

21. tw-a-ku-bwene — we had seen. 

22. tu-ka-la-bona — we shall soon see. 

23. tu-ka-la-chi-bona — we shall con- 

tinue seeing. 

24. tu-ka-la-ya-bu-bona — we shall be 

engaged in seeing. 


These are affirmative tenses ; they may be modified by 
the use of various negative particles : ta-tu-boni, we do not 
see ; ta-tu-na-ku-bona, we have not yet seen ; ta-tu-chi-na- 
ku-bona, we have still not yet seen, etc. And besides the 
Indicative mood, there are the Subjunctive, Conditional, 
Jussive, and Imperative moods. These are formed by 
means of prefixes, the final vowel of the verb changing to e 
in the Subjunctive and allied forms. 

By the addition of various suffixes the meaning of the 
verb is extended in a manner that reminds us of the forms 
of the Arabic and Hebrew verb. These forms are variously 
called Voices or Species. It will be worth while to give 
a list of them. No one verb that we know of takes all 
these forms and great care has to be exercised in their 
use, as often they have idiomatic meanings which are not 

i. Simple verb : bon-a, see. 

2. Relative : suffix -ila, which by assimilation may be -ela, -ina, 

or -ena ; bon-ena, see to, or for, in connection with. 

3. Extended relative : suffix -idila (-elela, -inina, -enena). 

Bon-enena, see to for somebody. Often gives an absolute 
meaning ; e.g. ya, go ; ila, go to ; ididila, go right 

4. Causative : suffix -ya, which undergoes many phonetic 

changes, see p. 288. Chita, do ; chisha, cause, or help, 
to do. 

5. Causative : suffix, -ika or -eka. Meaning : cause to be in 

a certain state. Mena, grow ; meneka, cause to be 

6. Capable : suffix, -ika or -eka. Meaning : corresponds to the 

English suffix -able. Chit-ika, be doable. 

7. Passive : Like Arabic, the Ila makes use of the vowel u 

to express the passive ; but instead of changing a root 
vowel (Arabic, qatala, he kills ; qutala, he is killed) it is 
suffixed in the form of w ; e.g. chita, to do ; chilwa, to 
be done. 

8. Middle : suffix -uka. Meaning : to be in a certain state. It 

differs from the Passive in that the action is not referred 
to any agent. And-uka, be split. The Passive, 
andul-wa, means that it is split by somebody ; anduka 
refers simply to its condition. 

9. Stative : suffix -ama. Meaning : to be in a certain position. 

Lul-ama, be straight ; kot-ama, be bowed. Unlike 
the other voices this is dead, or at least moribund ; it 
cannot be used with the same facility. 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 303 

10. Extensive : suffix -ula. This corresponds to No. 8 as 

transitive to intransitive. Meaning : to put into a certain 
state. The suffix translates " up " " through " in such 
words as, break up, bore through. Sand-ula, turn over. 
And-ula, split up. 

11. Extensive : suffix -aula. Gives meaning of " keep on doing, 

do in degrees, gradually, with repeated action." And-aula, 
chop up firewood. 

12. Repetitive : suffix -ulula. Answers to our prefix re-. Ula, 

trade ; ululula, trade a thing over and over again. 

13. Reversive : suffix -ulula. Answers to our prefix tin-. Amb- 

ulula, unsay, retract. 

14. Reflexive : prefix di-. Throws the action back on the subject. 

Anga, tie ; dianga, tie oneself ; pa, give ; dipa, give each 

15. Reciprocal : suffix -ana. Expresses mutual action. Bona, 

see ; bon-ana, see each other. 

16. Intensive: suffix -isha. Meaning: to do forcibly, heartily, 

lengthily. Ang-isha, tie tightly. 

17. Reduplicative : repeating the verbal stem. Ambuka, turn 

aside ; ambukambuka, keep on turning aside. 

Besides these seventeen forms, others are formed by add- 
ing one form to another; e.g. langidizha (No. 1 + 3 + 4), 
cause to look on behalf of. 

Each form of the verb can take the various prefixes to 
mark tense, etc. In this way most formidable-looking 
polysyllables, may be, and commonly are, formed ; for 
example : 

Tamuchinakubaangulwilanzhi ? 

Why have you still not yet untied them ? 

The root, which seems lost amid the multiplicity of 
syllables, is ang, tie. 

Formation of the Noun 

The Ila noun includes not only the substantive, but also 
the pronoun and adjective ; everything that is formed of 
a root and the noun prefixes. Like the verb, the noun has 
a basic portion and a formative portion, but its formatives 
are as a rule prefixed. The final vowel may undergo 
significant changes, and there are a few suffixes, such as 
we find in miuitu-ma, " my fellow-man." 

The Ba-ila, like all Bantu, conceive of all things as 



PT. V 

distributed in a certain number of categories. The funda- 
mentum divisionis is not very clear to the European mind, 
but would seem transparent to theirs, for they never have 
any hesitancy in allotting new things and new conceptions 
to their proper places. The division is not on a sex basis, 
like our familiar masculine, feminine, and neuter. It is 
marked by the use of certain prefixes, thirteen in number, 
which again are roughly divided into two, marking the 
singular and plural numbers. We may arrange them as 
follows : 











i- (di-) 









it- (w-) 
u (w) 

I- (d-) 



i- (y-) 














i {y-) 












y- sh 


y- sh 



The third columns contain the significant letters of the pre- 
fix which are used in forming pronouns, etc. 

All nouns whatever carry one of these prefixes which 
places it in its proper category ; the base of the word 
serving to define its proper nature. 

We will not enter into the never-ending discussion as 
to the precise nature of these classifiers. Suffice it here 
to say that as far as Ila is concerned, Class I contains 
persons ; it contains also the names of most animals, 
many of them being proper names and as such not having 
the prefix mu-, but belonging unmistakably to this class. 
Class 2 contains things with a less degree of personality ; 
Class 3 contains many augmentatives. The nouns of Class 4 
are abstract or collective. Class 6 is the diminutive class. 
Class 7 contains many names of worn-out, defective things. 
Class 8 contains names of things. Classes 9 and 10 contain 
many abstract or semi-abstract things. We noticed that 
when new words were being formed for the purposes of 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 305 

Christian teaching, such words as " love," " will," were at 
once given the prefix lu-. 

We will give one example. The root -ntu has some such 
meaning as " entity," and with differing prefixes it becomes 
as follows : mn-ntu, personal entity, a person ; ba-ntu, 
people ; i-ntu, an important entity (compare the word 
muka-intu, a woman, i.e. the one belonging to a human 
par excellence) ; bu-ntu, status, quality of a person, also 
virtus ; ku-ntu, where an entity may be, a place ; chi-ntu, 
a thing ; shi-ntu, things ; ka-ntu, a little thing ; tu-nta, 
little things ; ma-ntu, a great many things all together. 

The noun roots are either verbal roots, or else are a 
class by themselves, that is, are quite different from the 
verbal roots. In making nouns from the former, great care 
is exercised in the choice of the final vowel ; a and i give 
the noun an active meaning, e and u a passive meaning; 
is either one or the other or something between ; i and 
e are the vowels mostly in use. For example : 

mu-yas-i — one who spears. 
mu-yas-e — one who is speared. 

Nouns are formed, not only from the simple verbal root 
but also from any of the voice-forms. Mu-kumb-izhi, a 
beggar, is formed from No. 2, the relative form, kumb-ila, 
with the suffix given a definitely active form. 

The Ila adjective proper is formed in the same way 
as the substantive, with a prefix and stem, the difference 
being that the stems are more mobile and can take 
whatever prefix the qualified substantive takes ; e.g. 
muntu mu-kando, a great man ; chi-ntu chi-kando, a big 
thing. Besides this normal way adjectives are formed in 
other ways. 

It would take us too far afield to enter into a description 
of all the various kinds of pronouns — relative, demonstra- 
tive, personal, indefinite, etc. Suffice it to say that they 
are all closely related to the noun prefixes, being formed 
by reduplication or by being attached to certain special 
roots. Each noun class has its own proper set. In all, 
these forms number some hundreds. 

A word should be said of what are called the locative 

vol. 11 x 


mu = rest within, motion into or out from. 
ku = position at, motion to or from. 
a = rest upon, motion on to or from off. 

These are prefixed not to the noun roots but to the com- 
plete substantive. They afford an example of the remark- 
able precision of the Ila speech. If we say in English 
" the house is dark," our meaning is, if we think of it, 
very vague. Do we mean " it is dark " within or without ? 
No doubt is caused by the way the Ba-ila say it : 

mu-nganda mulashia — the interior of the house is dark. 
ku-ng anda kulashia — around the house is dark. 
a-ng'anda alashia — darkness is upon the house. 

If they said inganda ilashia, they would mean that the 
structure is dark or black. 

From these locative prefixes another series of pronouns, 
etc., is formed, all bringing with them the defined mean- 
ings of the original mu, kit, a. 

We need not enter into a description of the particle. 
The preposition, apart from the prefixes we have just men- 
tioned which are used as such, is not greatly developed, 
its place being largely taken by the suffixes of the verb. 
The adverb and conjunction would repay further study 
could we give it here. We may just illustrate the way in 
which the meaning conveyed in some of the noun prefixes 
is carried beyond the noun itself. Thus the prefix bu gives 
an abstract meaning to the noun, and, used as a particle, 
has the meaning " as, how, in the way that." Twandana 
bu bakaandana shempela o chivubwe, " let us separate as 
the rhino, and hippo, did." It is as if in the mind of 
the native the whole phrase bubakaandana formed an 
abstract noun. So in the tense already quoted, No. 5, 
tw-a-ya-bu-bona, "we are engaged in seeing," bubona seems 
to convey the sense of an abstract noun. 

A Page from the Ila Dictionary 

To show how Ila words develop from roots, we now 
give an entry from a dictionary as it might be written. 
As a matter of fact, abundant material for such a lexicon 

ch. xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 307 

exists, but whether it will ever see the light is doubtful. 
There is nothing artificial about this. No words have been 
coined for the purpose of exhibition : all are in actual use. 


(Ur-Bantu, yamba ; usual modern forms, amba, as in Ila, 
Swahili, etc., gamba, in Ganda, etc.). 

1. Amb-a — speak, say, talk, utter. 

Inf. kuamba (kwamba) ; pert, ambile. Uambai ? Uambanzhi ? 
What do you say ? Wangamba — he says to me. Makani 
ngwingamba — things which I say. Usually followed by ati ; 
ulaamb'ati — he speaks and says. Idiom : " about to " ; 
mubwa aambe avhwe wapatila mu chibia — when the dog was 
about to withdraw it stuck in the pot ; mwaba aambe achebuke 
munshi — when the jackal was about to look behind. 

2. AMB-ila — speak to ; ambil'a, say about, on account of. 

Wangambila — he says to me ; ndamuambiV ati — I tell him 
that . . . ; mnambilanzhi ? — why do you speak ? 

3. AMB-idila — speak on behalf of. 

4. AMB-ya — cause, help, to say. ( + 14) Diambya, speak to oneself, 

or to one another ; wadiambya mu chamba — he talks silently 
to himself ; badiambya beni beni — they discuss a matter 
between themselves. 

6. AMB-ika — be tellable, speakable ; makani taambika — the affairs 

cannot, may not, be spoken of ; makani ataambika — unspeak- 
able things. 

7. AMB-wa — said, spoken ; kwambwai ? Kwambwanzhi ? — what's 

the news ? 
11. AMB-aula — keep on saying. ( + 2) ambawila ; perf. ambaudile. 

13. AMB-ulula — unsay, retract ; sh'ambulula — I do not unsay 

what • I said; ( + 8) ambuluka, unsaid, retracted, reversed; 

perf. ambulukile ; makani adi ambulukile — the affairs have 

changed. Hence the following, apparently of different 

meaning, but all from same root : 

(8) AMB-uka — turn aside, leave path when travelling ; 
leave path of rectitude, go astray, fall away ; also, of 
children going to the bush. (17) AMB-uk-AMB- 
uka, constantly to leave the road ; twakeenda obach'- 
ambukambuka (riddle) we travelled with those who 
were always leaving the path. (10) AMB-ula, put, 
take, out of road ; ( + 2) AMB-wila , turn — for ; 
( + 4) AMB-usha, cause to turn aside, lead astray. 

14. diAMBya, see 4. (+1) diAMBa, speak of oneself, confess. 

(4-2, 3) di AMB-ila, di AMB-idila, speak for oneself, plead 
one's own cause. 

15. AMB-ana, converse, dispute, argue, quarrel ; perf. ambene. 

16. AMB-isha, talk much, loudly. ( + 2) AMBishizha ; mua- 

mbishizhanzhi ? — why do you speak so loudly ? 


Derived Nouns : 

CI. Mu-ba- MwAMBi, speaker. MwAMBilwa, person spoken to ; 
proverb : kahtba mwambi, mwambilwa taluba — the speaker 
(insulter) may forget, but the one spoken to (insulted) does 
not forget. MwAMBididi, MwAMBidizhi, advocate, inter- 
cessor. MwAMBidilwa, one interceded for. MwAMBushi, 
one who turns out of the road. MwAMBuzhi, one who 
turns another aside. ShikuAMBisha, one who speaks loudly. 
MwAMBuluzhi, one who retracts. MwAMBani, Shimw- 
AMBana, disputer ; proverb : Shimwambana o mwami 
walekela o mano ; the disputer with a chief has thrown away 

CI. Mu-mi- MwAMBo, word, speech, language. MiAMBoMi- 
AMBo, various kinds of languages. 

CI. I-ma- IAMBo, a great saying. MAMBo, a great many sayings. 
MAMBAMBa, chatterings, one's own affairs, particularly in 
contrast with a message with which he is entrusted. 
Mambamba budio ! — He is speaking for himself, not what he 
was sent to say ; also a confused talking, of many people 
speaking at once. 

CI. Bu-ma- BwAMBE, speaking, manner of speaking. Wabosha 
bwambe — you speak well. BwAMBI, loud talking. 

CI. Ku. KwAMBa, speaking, talking. 

CI. Ka-tu- KAMBo, thing spoken of, affair, fault, crime, court- 
case, reason. Kambonzhi ? — Why ? Kambokakuti — because. 
TwAMBO, sayings, utterances, reasons. ShikAMBoma, 
my opponent in a case ; shikambonoko, thy— — ; Shikambo- 

nina, shikambonokwesu, shikambonokwabo , his , our , 

their . KAMBile, something spoken of already, decided 

upon, plot, plan. 

CI. Chi-shi- ChAMBa, the chest, thoracic cavity (as seat of 
thought). ChAMBa - ehilemu, forbearance. ShichAMB- 
achilemu, a forbearing person. ShichAMBa, a sincere, 
truthful person. ChAMBo, speech, language, dialect. 
ChAMBukilo, place for turning aside. ChAMBilo, time 
for speaking, opportunity ; + a, locative particle : acha- 
mbilo — at the time ; ano ng'achambilo chakwe — this is the 
time for him to speak. 

CI. IN-In- IngAMBAMBi, persistent talking ; ShingAMBAMBi, a 
persistent talker. 

Derived Adjectives : 

i. -AMBi, speaking ; -AMBe, spoken. 

6. -AMBishi, speakable ; proper, right, to be spoken. 

8. -AMBushi, errant, fallen astray. 

13. -AMBulule, -AMBuluke, unspoken, retracted. 

Here we have, in all, nearly sixty words formed from 
the one root AMB ; not all that could possibly, by the 

ch.xxvi THE ILA LANGUAGE 309 

rules of the language, be formed from it, but those we 
have recorded as in use. The Ila dictionary would be 
made up of similar pages. 

Sentence Formation 

The noun is the chief word in the sentence ; it is the 
master, so to speak, and every pronoun, adjective, verb, 
that is dependent upon it takes its prefix (or the significant 
part of the prefix) as a livery or mark of subservience. 
This is the principle of the alliterative or euphonic concord. 
For example : 

Mu-ntu M-urawi mu-botu mwirni-mwi-ni wa-ke-za. 

One really good person came. 
Ba-ntu kmwi ba-hotu be-m-be-ni ba-ke-za. 

Other really good people came. 

In a subsequent chapter we give many of the Ila folk-tales ; 
it will help to an appreciation of these and of the language 
if we now transcribe one in the original with a word-for- 
word translation : 

Sulwe mbwakatizha Mitzovu. 

Hare it-is-how-he-made-fear Elephant. 

Usulwe wa-ambila Muzovu ati: " A-tu-ende tu-ka-zube 

The-Hare he-spoke-to Elephant he-said : " Let-us-go (that) we-may-hide 

tu-ka-bone u-kwete mano a ku-zuba." Inzho Muzovu 

we-may-see who-holds cunning of hiding." Then Elephant 

wa-ambila Sulwe, ati : " Ome ndi-kwete mano ku-bazha uwe, 
he-spoke-to Hare, he-said : " I I-hold cunning to-surpass thee, 

uwe kashonto to-mbadi -mano." Inzho ba-ya. Ba-shike 

thou little-one not-me-surpass cunning." Then they-went. (That) they arrive 

budio Sulwe wa-ambila Muzovu, ati: " Tanguna, uwe uka-zube." 
simply Hare he-speaks-to Elephant, he-says : ' ' Be-first thou, thou-may-hide. ' ' 

Muzovu wa-ya. A-shike kuchivunawa-zuba ; anukuti u-di-shite 
Elephant he-went. He-arrive to bush he-hid ; whereas he-is-sitting 

a-sweya budio. Walo ati : " Nda-zuba." Walo Sulwe 

on-clear simply. That-one he-said : " I-am-hidden." That-one Hare 

a-shike wa-mu-zubulula. Inzho aze Sulwe ati : " Ko-shite, 
he-arrive he-him-un-hid. Then he-also Hare he-said : " Stay, 

nzube." Pele Sulwe wo-ona ku shihuna, wa-salama 

I-hide." Then Hare he-lay-down at bush, he-lay-on-his-back 

wa-tutulula menso akwe. Inzho we-ta Muzovu, ati : 

he-protruded eyes his. Then he-called Elephant, he-said : 


Kweza u-nzubulule." Wa-ya Muzovu, a-shike wa-kapaula 

Come thou-me-find." He-went Elephant he-arrive he-kept-on-seeking 

wa-amb'ati : " ngu-di kwi no?" A-lang'anshi wa-bona menso 
he-spoke-he-said : " it-is-thou-where ? " He-look-down he-saw eyes 

atulukile wa-zowa, wa-amb'ati : " Ya-ndweza inshi,ya-mena 

protruded he-was-amazed, he-spoke-he-said : "It-me-horrifies earth, it-grows 

menso." Inzho we-ta beenzhina, ati : " Ka-mwi-za mu-bone ya-mena 
eyes." Then he-called his-friends, he said : " Come-ye, ye-see it grows 

menso inshi." Be-za, pele Sulwe wa-buka, wa-ambila Muzovu, 
eyes earth." They-came only Hare he-arose, he-spoke-to Elephant, 

ati : " Uwe, u-di mudimbushi. Omenda-ku-bazha mano, ndime 
he-said :" Thou, thou-art fool. I, I-thee-surpass cunning, it-is-I 

mukando." Pele Muzovu wa-usa budio. 
great." Only Elephant he-ashamed simply. 

How Hare Scared Elephant 

Hare once said to Elephant: " Let us play hide-and-seek and 
we will see who is the more cunning at the game." Elephant replied : 
" I have more cunning than you in hiding ; a little thing like you 
cannot be more cunning than I." So they went off. When they 
arrived at the place, Hare said to Elephant : " You be the first to 
hide." Elephant went off, and coming to a bush he hid ; at least 
he thought he hid, really he was lying in the open. He called out : 
" I am hidden." Hare on his arrival at once found him. Then 
Hare on his part said : " Stay here, while I hide." He lay down 
at the bush, turned on his back and protruded his eyes ; then he 
called Elephant : " Come and find me." Elephant came, and 
hunted about. Said he : ' Wherever can you be ? " Then, looking 
down, he saw the protruded eyes, and was amazed. ' The earth 
horrifies me," he said, " it grows eyes." Then he called his friends, 
saying : " Come and see here, the earth grows eyes." They came 
and Hare arose and said to Elephant : ' You are a fool. I have 
more cunning than you. I am the great one." Elephant was 
simply crestfallen. 


This chapter on the language is not to teach it to our 
readers (if any have had the patience to follow us so far), 
but it is meant to leave on their minds an impression of 
the extraordinary richness and flexibility of the language. 
It is a fine instrument. One is surprised that the Ba-ila 
should have such a fine instrument ; it has potentialities 
far beyond their need of self-expression hitherto. For 
some years now it has been put into written form for them, 
books have been written in it, the New Testament has been 
translated into it. 



i. Proverbs 

In his dealings with the Ba-ila few things help a European 
more than a knowledge of their proverbs. To be familiar 
with them gives one a good deal of insight into their char- 
acter and ways of looking at things, for they express the 
likes and dislikes of the people in certain directions in quite 
an unmistakable fashion. And, moreover, these proverbs 
are taken largely as a rule of life. They are truly " the 
wisdom of many " — maxims of discreet conduct that have 
stood the test of ages ; they are equally " the wit of one," 
showing a remarkably shrewd insight into motives, and 
expressed in a short, concise manner that reflects great 
credit upon their authors, whoever they may be. Some 
of them bear their meaning on the surface and we see 
at once what their equivalents are in our own language. 
Of others the meaning is not so apparent, but when once 
explained their appropriateness to the occasion is imme- 
diately patent. A knowledge of the proverbs is, then, 
invaluable to any who wish to appreciate the character of 
the Ba-ila and especially to those who have direct dealings 
with them. Many an angry dispute has been silenced, 
many an inhospitable chief has been rebuked into generosity, 
many a forward beggar has been reduced to shame, and 
many a long, diffuse argument has been clinched by the 
apt quotation of one of these proverbs. 

A study of the proverbs is very valuable to the student 
of the language. It is not an easy study, but the correct 




PT. V 


f ^ 

and appropriate use of them will mark the competent 
speaker. They contain many words that are not heard in 
ordinary conversation, and also many archaic expressions 
and grammatical forms. This which, of course, is only a 
proof of their antiquity, makes translation difficult — natives 
themselves cannot always explain the significance of these 
expressions while knowing the meaning of the whole pro- 
verb — and one cannot always be sure therefore that he 
has caught the precise meaning. And, of course, the 
peculiar flavour of these proverbs largely evaporates in 
the translating. But, with all allowance for these facts, 
the man is to be pitied who cannot appreciate the wit 
and wisdom of these sayings. 

In the following pages we transcribe a few examples 
from a large collection of these proverbs, grouped roughly 
under headings and accompanied by such elucidation as 
may be necessary. 

The first class contains maxims and precepts, truths 
verified in the experience of the tribe and inculcated as 
rules of conduct. Many of them are serious enough, but 
the laughter is never far away. And laughter, Bergson 
tells us, " is above all a corrective. ... Its function is to 
intimidate by humiliating." The wit pursues a utilitarian 
aim of general improvement. " By laughter society avenges 
itself for the liberties taken with it." A Mwila greatly 
objects to being made fun of, and his susceptibility to 
ridicule is a powerful instrument in the hands of those 
who try to improve him. He can often be laughed out of 
a thing when argument and even force are unavailing. 

As a legal maxim we have already quoted : Kwina mwami 
owakadizhala (" No chief ever gave birth to a chief "). The 
hereditary principle, by which a son follows his father, 
is unknown to the Ba-ila. 

Among the social virtues most appreciated is hospitality, 
and we are not surprised to find it inculcated in various 
proverbs. Mwenzu talangwa ankumu, mulange mwifu (" A 
visitor is to be regarded not as to his face but as to his 
stomach"). Matako a mwenzu makadikwa ("The rump 
of a visitor is made to sit upon "). Shikwaze tabudi budilo 
bwa nswi (" A fish-eagle does not lack fish for food on a 


journey ") ; he is sure to find some, and so will you ; only 
trust people. These sayings illustrate also the ironical wit 
of the people ■' they state what ought to be done, pretending 
that this is just what is actually being done. That is Berg- 
son's definition of irony. We should add that the quickest 
way of securing hospitality is simply to quote one of these 
sayings : what ought to be done is done. 

Many of the proverbs aim in this way against certain 
classes of people, who, like the poor, are always with us, 
whether our lot is placed in civilisation or in heathenesse. 

There are Pharisees even among the Ba-ila. Kabombwe 
balamusanana, menzhi balanwa (" They spurn the frog 
but drink the water"), i.e. they don't like to find a frog in ]<>.; 
their drinking-water, but they will drink it after the frog 
is removed — an apt description of the unctuous rectitude 
that strains at the gnat and swallows the camel ! A man 
who claims to be without fault is rebuked by the saying : 
U shiletekambo wakatea inzoka munzhila (" Mr. No-fault 
ensnared a snake in the road "), and left it to bite passers-by. 
Nobody is without blame for something or other ! 

" The one failing that is essentially laughable is vanity." 
So Bergson says again ; and many an Ila proverb laughs 
quietly at men who puff themselves up and despise others. 
Kwina mwami owakadila mump and e (" There is no chief 
who eats out of an impande shell "). The shell may show 
his wealth, but when it is a matter of eating, the chief must 
do as ordinary people do — eat out of a dish. Nature con- 
founds social distinctions. That is a way of reminding 
an arrogant man that he is only human after all. A person 
who in his conceit is always running others down will be 
reminded that Chizhilo chibe chishinka musena (" Any old ' 
pole will stop up a hole in the fence ") : everybody is useful 
to the community in some way or other. Or he will be 
told '. W abakembetema wasandukila masamo nina (" An 
axe-shaft is made out of an ordinary piece of wood "). That 
cuts two ways : an ordinary person can be made of great 
use ; but, on the other hand, he is not essential ; like an 
axe-shaft, he is of use only in connection with others (meaning 
the axe-head) and can easily be replaced. Or again, the 
conceited person will be told to remember that Musongo 


wakalukanka, takachidyile ; mudimbushi owakweza munshi 
wakachidya (" A wise man ran on without eating it, a 
fool coming behind ate it ") — meaning that the wise in 
their own conceits often miss the good things in life. An 
overbearing stranger may be told, Muchende tafumpuka 
matanga obili (" A bull doesn't enjoy fame in two herds "). 

A know-all will have quoted to him the Ila equivalent 
of our saying about teaching one's grandmother : Uwe 
muntu takukubudi banoko, kulakubula banji (" Oh, man, 
don't try to teach your mother, try others"). Or this: 
Mano avhwa mu kaumbuswa (" Wisdom comes out of an 
ant-heap "), which means that even a fool knows something. 
Or this : Mano takala mutwi omwi (" Wisdom does not 
dwell in one head"). Or again, Mukando mushie lubilo, 
mano tomushii (" You may outrun an old man, but you 
can't outdo him in wisdom "). Or he will be curtly bidden, 
Kula ubone twanshi (" Get grown up and then you will 
know the things on earth ") . These are especially applicable, 
it will be noticed, to young people anxious to instruct 
their elders. 

Another class needing correction is the grumblers. One 
who should complain of his food would be exhorted that, 
Muchanka wa nyama udi omwi (" The niceness of meat 
is one"). That is not true of a epicure, but it is so to a 
hungry man. 

We have many proverbs aimed at evil speakers. 
Kamunazaka o mulozhi, shikalaka ulayaya chishi (" Build 
rather with a witch than with a false-tongued person, he 
destroys a community"). Kaluba mwambi, mwambilwa 
talnba (" The speaker may forget, but he who is spoken 
to does not forget "), i.e. you may forget the insult but the 
person you insult will not, it will rankle. A scandal-monger 
will be derided thus : Wakotokela kuvuya (" He leaves off 
work to backbite people ") : he's too lazy to attend to his 
business. The following are two cryptic sayings descrip- 
tive of the same kind of person : Ufulwe mumi tapakwa 
bwanga (" A living tortoise is not worn as a charm ") ; 
which, whether you see it or not, means that you mustn't 
speak evil of a living man. Kazune shimuntwanganya 
imbula watola u muchenji (" A treacherous little bird took 


an imbula fruit to a muchenji tree " —a fruit-bearing tree) : 
the idea is that the bird in a fatuous way sought to curry 
favour with the tree. It is a proverb describing a person 
who runs his own chief down to another chief, and that 
chief to his own : a subtle kind of flattery which yet is so 
very obvious ! 

Greedy people do not come off scathless from the makers 
of Ila proverbs. Mulakumune ku kudya kwalo udikwete 
insana ("The great - open - mouth, only in eating is his 
strength ! "). He is like a sack, that will take in all that 
it will hold ; he is good for nothing else. And if he 
clamours for food that is being kept for an absent member, 
he is gently reminded : Udi afwafwi ng'udya twinu, udi 
kulale tabudi bwinu (" He that is near should get a little 
of the fat, the one that is far should not lack plenty "). 

The Ba-ila are far from being cowards, but they know 
quite well that discretion is the better part of valour. Or, 
as they say : Kabwenga moa ng'uongola (" It is the prudent 
hyena that lives long"). A hot-headed man that rushes 
into danger, and meets disaster, against all warning is thus 
spoken of : Ubosha obamuweza (" It pays them out who 
hunt for it ! "). 

A laggard will be told : Ingombe insolozhi njinwa menzhi 
("It is the first ox that drinks the water") — when the 
laggards come up they find it all gone. And he will slyly 
be spoken of thus : Inaumpi odia bula (" The mother wild- 
dog of the intestine "). That is a good example of the allu- 
sive by-speech of the Ba-ila. Nobody would understand 
it who did not know the tale of the wild-dogs : the mother 
who used to hunt game for her children until she grew too 
old ; then the poor old thing (in the eyes of the Ba-ila she 
would be a laughing-stock) had to lag behind, and could 
only come up with the pack — her children — in time to get a 
bit of the entrails. So to call a man Inaumpi is to poke 
fun at him, perhaps in a kindly teasing manner. 

It is very often said that Africans are deficient in grati- 
tude ; it would be truer to say that they feel thankful but 
do not express it in the same way as we do. Ozona ozona 
is a thanksgiving formula, or, as the Basuto say, ka moso le 
ka moso, both meaning " To-morrow and to-morrow," i.e. 



PT. V 


give me it again and again. The proverbs show that an 
ingrate is spoken against. Kunavhuna shilumamba, ushi- 
nzala udikwete kambukwa (" Better help a fighting-man 
than a hungry person, he (the latter) has no gratitude"). 

Squanderers come in for a share of ridicule. Thus : 
Ing'ombe intaka itakanya muchila wayo (" The prodigal 
cow threw away her own tail"). An obstinate person, 
who suffers through not taking advice, will have this 
thrown at him : Ngulube wakafwa mu shitamba (" The pig 
died in the trap ") — against which it was warned. 

Levellers, despisers of authority, and kickers against 
the pricks lay themselves open to many a witty rebuke. 
Tatuzanda kasutasuta kei dia namakukwe (" We do not like 
the pride of a hen's egg"). It is difficult to see at first 
where the pride of an egg comes in, but if you look at them 
lying in the nest you will see that they are all alike ; they 
are republicans, every Jack as good as his neighbour — and 
that is the pride of an egg ! And a person who sets him- 
self on a level with the authorities will quickly be told that 
in this community the pride of eggs is not to be tolerated ! 
Two proverbs may be quoted which show a discontented 
person that, while chastening is grievous, it is for his good. 
Nevhuluma tedyi mwana ("Though the lion growls it 
won't eat its child"). Namakukwe tafwi kabambala ka 
nina ("A chicken does not die of its mother's kicks"). 
An incorrigible rebel will be reminded by his father or 
chief : Chikaya ndachileka (" I throw away an old useless 
armlet ") — so take heed ! 

We may pass now to a series of proverbs which contain 
advice for discreet conduct in various relations of life. A 
general proverb, pronounced by the Ba-ila to be a very 
great one indeed, is : Utotakatila mudilo (" Do not throw 
it into the fire"). We have often heard this quoted to a 
person who is about to commit a foolish action ; it means : 
Be careful ! You throw away your chance, it won't come 
again ! Perhaps we may also put under the same heading 
a proverb which is the very reverse of the golden rule : 
Wanchita mwenzha-kabotu, ame ndakuchita mwenzha-kabotu : 
wanchita mwenzha-bubi ame ndakuchita mwenzha-bubi (" If 
you do me a good turn, I will do you a good turn ; if you 


do me an evil turn, I also will do you an evil turn "). Of 
a similar effect is the other : Nvhunaolwaku muma, ame olwa 
ku menzhi ndakuvhuna (" Help me in my need on the 
bank, and I will help you in yours in the water"). This 
is explained by one of the tales, in which a hare and a 
crocodile make a compact of friendship ; the hare to help 
the crocodile on land, and the crocodile the hare in the 

Advice is given to masters in dealing with their slaves. 
It will be discreet for them to show no favour but to treat 
all alike. Bana ba manga balauminwa dimwi (" Twin chil- 
dren are both beaten at the same time ") — i.e. if one does 
wrong they are both beaten ; if your servants all do well 
you must not single out one for praise ; nor, on the other 
hand, if they all displease should you be angry with any 
particular one — treat them all alike. And remember, too, 
Muzhike wako ulumbwa n'aloboka (" Your slave is praised 
after he has run away from you ") ; you undervalue him now 
and treat him with less than justice ; one day, when he 
runs away, you will begin to appreciate him. 

On the other hand, people in a state of dependence are 
advised against foolish behaviour. Malelo mazhokaukwa 
(" A state of dependence is to be returned to ") : so do not 
anger your master and get dismissed, for one day you 
may want to go back to him and he won't have you. And 
again : Bomba udye malelo (" Be humble so that you may 
continue to enjoy the state of dependence you are in "). 

This is a saying conveying advice to a bridegroom : 
Kapadingwa kupa banoko, mukazhi nindavu (" Give to 
your mother, a wife is a lion ") — which means, treat your 
mother better than your wife ; you may have many wives, 
you can have only one mother. 

It is a wise saying that a man should be on good terms 
with his doctor : Chenjezha nganga, malwazhi eza bu seka 
(" Annoy your doctor and sicknesses will come laughing "). 

Advice is given to people to keep their friendships in 
constant repair : Inzhi ikafwine nj'ikukala (" The fly that 
loves you is the one that sits on you ") — visit your friends 
and so show your affection. 

People are warned against not keeping their business 



to themselves : Mankulubwiza atole ku mucheche, mukando- 
noko ulazukula (" If you tell jokes about him to a child, 
your fellow adult will find it out "), so exercise discretion in 
your gossip. Mubwa ukuwa twabona (" When the dog 
barks we see them ") — you may not notice strangers ap- 
proaching until the dogs draw your attention to them ; 
if you want a thing kept quiet don't chatter about it. 

So they recognise that walls have ears and little birds 
carry news. Kadya maluwo oku . miikoa kadikubwene 
(" While you are away from home visiting, your own people 
know all about you"). Mweemena mu mumbwe umwini 
mumbwe katelele {" If you weep in a deep pit the pit even 
will hear you "). Udye ka mashiku mashiku adikubwene, ti- 
dy 'e ka munza munza udikubwene {" If you eat at night the 
night sees you ; if you eat in the daytime the day sees 
you ") — whatever you do, it is sure to become known. 
There is a recognition of the fact that experience teaches ; 
and young people who want to run before they can crawl 
may have this saying quoted to them : Ma mpinika ! 
("Mother, give me a turned-up lip"). Here two words, 
like our " sour grapes," represent a story with a moral. 
It is the opening of a conversation between Master Wart-hog 
and his mother ; the little pig wanted a lip turned up by 
the protrusion of the tusks, like his mother's ; the old dame 
reminded him in answer that he would have to grow first : 
" I can't turn up your lip," she said, " it is only Leza who 
can do that." 

Another series of proverbs urges the necessity of a man 
looking out for himself and getting all he can. Mudimo 
wa mwami tokasha kudisala injina (" The work of a chief 
doesn't prevent one from hunting out one's own fleas ") — 
if you are working for a chief that need not hinder you 
from minding your own affairs. Again : Kudya mwami 
omwi wabula matende {" If you eat with one chief only, it is 
because you have no feet "). Get all you can out of them 
all, even if it mean a little exertion on your part. And 
do not be backward in asking, remember Muzhimo udiamba 
ngudya nyama (" The god that speaks up is the one that 
gets the meat "). If a god is easy-going and doesn't trouble 
those who neglect to sacrifice to him, he won't get anything ; 


and if you don't ask you won't get. And, further, if you 
get a chance do not scruple to extort all you can from 
anybody : Kombekache kalazhala bana badi ihumi ("A 
young cow will in time bear ten calves "). If you have lent 
any one anything do not mind playing the usurer ; get out of 
him all he has. That is just what the Ba-ila do ; they are 
terribly hard on each other. And if people find fault with 
you for attempted extortion remind them that Ushikoswe 
wakasukusha butale (" The rat tried his teeth on the iron "). 
It may have been foolish, but, then, you never know what 
you can get until you try. 

A more pleasant set of sayings are those used to inspire 
men with patience and courage. Luvhwavhwa ndu lumana 
munda (" Much coming in and out finishes the field") — so 
keep at it ! Bushiku bomwi tabubozha muzovu (" One day 
is not sufficient to rot an elephant ") — Rome was not built 
in a day. Ukwatakwata tabudididi (" He who keeps hold 
does not lack ") — so stick to your work. To a man in great 
distress one would say : Ngu menzhi kumbele (" There is 
water ahead ") — do not despair. And to a man foolishly 
afraid : Ulatia mushinze uina kabz&enga (" You fear the 
darkness that covers no hyena"). And to brace up a 
man to a great effort one would say : Mulombwana 
muzovu uladikwela ("A man is an elephant, he is able 
to draw himself ") — i.e. has strength sufficient for his 

We come now to the second class of proverbs, those 
expressing what we may venture to call the Ba-ila criticism 
of life. 

Many show a recognition, somewhat cynical, of certain 
unpleasant facts. For example, that death wipes out our 
memory from the minds of all but perhaps a few. Chabola 
chiya ku beni (" That which is rotten goes to its owners ") — 
only a few -remember the dead. And the injustice of life 
finds many an expression. Mukamwami uleba ubeesha 
bazhike bakwe (" When a chief's wife steals she puts blame 
upon her slaves ") — a poor man is powerless against the 
rich and influential. Mubwa n'akuwa impuwo nja mwini 
munzhi (" When a dog barks the fame belongs to the 
master of the village "). A master takes credit for his 


servant's acts. On the other hand, the .master discovers 
sometimes that his position does not give him everything : 
Kwachiswa ng'ombe mabala akaya ku mubwa (" When the 
ox was sick its colours went — to the dog ") — i.e. the subject 
married a fine woman, or gained some other advantage 
that the chief could not get. 

The difference between the apparent and the real often 
finds expression in these proverbs : Twabona indudi (" We 
saw the houses as to the roofs ") — we did not see the interior. 
There is the suggestion that very often things are not 
what they seem. Kusambwa itomba buzhike tabumana 
(" You may cleanse yourself, but it is not to say you cease 
to be a slave ") — let the slave dress as well as he may, he 
cannot get rid of his real condition. And a man may seem 
happy and prosperous while really suffering shame and 
trouble. Ndaseka budio, meno nchifua, such a man might 
say (" I laugh emptily, my teeth are a bone"). Or: Oka 
chisa kezhi mwini ("A man knows his own woe "). 

The painful fact that people cannot live long together 
without some quarrelling is thus expressed : Matako aswa- 
ngene tabudi mutukuta (" Buttocks rubbing together do 
not lack sweat"). 

There is ample recognition of the fact that men follow 
the inclination of their minds, and that it is useless to try 
to force them into channels from which they are averse. 
Ufuile mubidi, mozo tofuile (" You have the body but not 
the heart ") — you may capture me as a slave, or compel 
me into marriage with you, but you cannot force me to 
love you. Kapuka takashinikizhiwa umbwina mbu kata- 
zanda (" An insect cannot be forced into a burrow which 
it does not like "). Udi kwabo tachengwa inshima inkando 
(" The man at home in thought is not to be deceived by 
much porridge ") — you can't retain a home-sick man by 
offering him plenty to eat. In brief : Mozo ngu sungwe 
("The heart leads"). 

And it is not for another to criticise me if I choose a 
thing he doesn't like : " de gustibus," etc. Chikonda utwele 
(" The old thing pleases him who married her ") — whatever 
others may say about it. Chibi ku bantu ukudi baina 
nchibotu (" What is ugly to other people is fair in the 

rhoto U. If. Smith. 


To show style of hairdressing. 



sight of its (a child's) mother "') — and it is enough if what 
a man has satisfies himself. 

Of course a man may choose for himself, and choose 
foolishly, in the face of all remonstrance ; well, he must 
lie on the bed he made. He can't change later, it's too 
late. Mulonga owatakazholwa wakwata makobo (" A river 
that would not be straightened has bends in it ") — you 
cannot do anything for it now. 

And so we come to those proverbs which give expres- 
sion, more or less clearly, to the fatalism that is so char- 
acteristic of the Ba-ila. The inexorability of life, the 
certainty that trouble is the fate of all men, and that it 
is hopeless to try to avoid it ; those are their feelings. 
Ulabuka bwifu (" It will arise as surely as the stomach "). 
You don't know how or when ; you only know that some 
time or other a woman will be pregnant ; and trouble is 
just as certain. A cryptic saying is that : Lufu Iwina 
impwizhi ("Death has no heifer"), i.e. it comes to all 
alike, though we have never seen the connection of thought. 
Ushikwaze ulelala ("Even the fish-eagle has on occasion to 
go to bed hungry"). Tangala kabotu,mwanashimatwangangu, 
mapule adi zile (" Rejoice circumspectly, son of my master, 
the enemy has come") — be moderate in your exultation, 
Nemesis is bound to overtake you. . Notangala Leza 
udikubwene ("When you exult, God sees you") — and God 
stands for them as fate, the unconquerable powers of the 
universe. And if you are very happy, that may be the 
occasion for a swift disaster to befall you. 

We may insert here a number of shrewd sayings of a 
miscellaneous character : Mwami tafwi o manza ku matashi 
("A chief will not die with bracelets on his arms"), i.e. in 
a time of famine. You need not worry about a wealthy 
man, he can always look after himself in time of need. To 
the same effect is this : Mukamwini musozha talangwa 
imfunda inkando (" You do not look for a big handful 
for the owner of the provender"), i.e. the food is in his 
power, and he will take what he needs. Ufwile mpeyo 
tatondezhiwa ku mudilo (" He who is cold does not need 
to have the fire pointed out to him ") — he will go to it 
without being told. 


So we come to the third class into which we divide 
Ila proverbs : smart sayings and clever metaphors rather 
than maxims or precepts, though included with the others 
in the general term tushim^i (" proverbs "). 

Thus a man deceived by another upon whose promises 
he was relying may say to him : Wankuluzha olntalampi 
(" You shave me with a blunt razor "). When a person is 
urged to something he is determined not to do, he may 
close the argument by ejaculating : Mani nkuvhunika 
lukwi ! (" Until I cover you up with a winnowing basket ! ") 
— an impossible feat ; he means, never ! If a man has 
done some foolish thing, he will lament by saying : Ndawala 
ibwe mu lulu (" I threw a stone into an ant-heap ") — it has 
gone past recovery. 

One of the smartest things of this sort is the saying 
applied to a person who is overkind, suspiciously anxious 
to do you a favour : Ukwete luse Iwa mulozhi (" He has the 
kindness of a witch "). 

Thieves are always clever in finding a way out for 
themselves. It is said of one that he entered a house and 
stole a mess of boiling porridge ; just then the owner 
appeared in the doorway, and, slipping his prize under his 
clothes, the thief gave a yell of pain — not altogether feigned 
— and shouted : Nkafwile ansengwe afwila balombwanama 
(" Let me get outside to die where nty fellow-men died "). 
The owner, thinking he was dying, let him pass, and of 
course saw him no more. So when a man makes an out- 
rageous excuse, you say : " Yes, let me die outside." 

As we have seen, some of these sayings are allusions 
to what is narrated elsewhere in the folk-tales. Here is 
another example. It is said that a blind man was going 
with a friend along a road carrying firewood ; somehow 
he got past the other, and when his friend overtook him 
he was astonished to find some meat lying beside the blind 
man. " Oh, you've found meat ! " he said. " Yes," was 
the ready answer, " I am waiting for you to put it on my 
shoulder." The friend was amazed ; how could a blind 
man find meat ? As a matter of fact, the first intima- 
tion the blind man had of the meat's presence was the 
exclamation of his friend. But he said no more and 


went off with ^ the meat, leaving his friend still won- 
dering. And the advice a Mwila will give you is : " If a 
companion suddenly says, ' Here's an axe ! here's a hoe ! ' 
don't say, ' Whose is it ? ' but say, ' Yes, my friend, please 
hand me my axe.' " Or, as they put it : Waangila adiinsha 
mbwakachita mofu (" You seize the fleeting chance, just as 
the blind man did "). 

The Ba-ila are adept in expressing things in a round- 
about way. Sometimes in listening to their conversations, 
to our amazement we could not catch the drift of a sentence. 
The words were Ila, sure enough, but conveyed absolutely 
no sense to us. It was something probably they did not 
want us to understand. 

Even as we are writing this, we hear a man some dis- 
tance off shouting : Menso menso kumbo o kwiwe ! (" Eyes, 
eyes, west and east "). He means to say that travellers are 

2. Riddles 

The time and place for asking riddles is the evening around 
the fires. The invariable formula is this : one says Kako ! 
(" This ! ") i.e. Here is one for you ; and the reply is : Kakeza 
i (" Let it come ! "). • The name for riddle is kalabi (plural, 

tulabi), and to answer a riddle satisfactorilyTi'7ewZa6w&w/wZa. 
When one propounds a riddle the others make their guesses ; 
if incorrect, he simply repeats it. If they despair of getting 
the answer, they say: twazhimina ("we are lost"). He 
then tells them and propounds another. There are probably 
many hundreds of these riddles in circulation and new ones 
are constantly being made. Some people, even young lads, 
know a great many; Riddles are more than mere amuse- 
ment : they serve to quicken the wits. We give a few ex- 
amples that we have heard around the camp-fires at night. 
The student of the language will not fail to notice 
that in the riddles, as in the proverbs, there are many words 
and phrases that baffle him. Here also we find unusual or 
archaic words, but there are also words that have no mean- 
ing and never, seemingly, had a meaning ; they are used 
simply to mystify. There are also plays on words intro- 
duced for the same purpose. 


1. Musune wa Kachikumbwa ngu shilwiyalomwi. 
Kachikumbwa's ox is a one-horned beast. 
Answer : Lukoma — " A calabash dipper." 

The point is the dipper's long stalk used as a handle. 

2. Kazuminina kalonga kwashala isale. 

When the brook dried up the grass (on the bank) was left. 
Answer: Ndinso — " It is the eye." 
The idea is that when the eye goes blind the eyebrows and 
eyelashes remain as before. 

3. Kafua ka Ntite kwina owatakasola. 

There is nobody who has not tasted the little bone of Ntite. 
Answer : Ndukolo — " the breast." 
There is a play on the words ka Ntite (" of a little bird ") and 
Katiti ("the dugs"). 

4. Mb'uzhokela. 
As you return ! 

Answer : Chilungamo — " Threshold." 
The idea is that whenever you return home you find the threshold. 

5. Uso ndamupa matimba takamana. 

I give your father a small cupful of (a certain kind of) porridge 

and it does not end. 
Answer : Tulo — " Sleep." 

6. Umwenu mukadi kombe kafula bulele. 

At your home there is a calf that grazes lying down. 
Answer : Mwini — " A 'hoe-handle. " 

7. Umwenu mukadi okasubila ifu antumba. 

In your house there is a little thing whose stomach is red 

Answer : Insua — "A calabash churn." 

8. Mupepe wa Shikwidikwikwi tobonwa mainza. 

The feather of Shikwidikwikwi (a bird) is not seen in the 

rainy season. 
Answer : Kambizhi—" A whirlwind." 
The point is that the name Shikwidikwikwi is, applied to the 
whirlwind, and whirlwinds are not seen during the rains. 

9. Kuunga balanda mwini taunga. 

The things possessed may blow away, th owner does not. 
Answer : Ndulu — ■" An ant-heap." 
The allusion is to the flying ants. 

10. Ukwa Leza ndachileta chitasakululwa. 

I brought a thing from God that cannot be taken off like 

Answer : Matwi—" Ears." 


ii. Munzhila ndayana chitaamba. 

In the road I found something that does not speak. 
Answer: Banyama — "Animals." 

12. Bimbile uvhunikile a mat akwe. 
A hawk that covers up its eggs ! 
Answer : Nduludi — " It's a roof." 

13. Muzovu umina ch'amba mwifu. 

An elephant that swallows something which speaks in its 

Answer : Inganda — " A house." 

14. Balumbu ninkuti kutena. 
Foreigners that are covered all over. 
Answer : Inyemo — " Ground-nuts." 

15. Ukwa Leza ndakachileta chanda chitapapuka. 

From God I brought a forked stick which does not split. 
Answer : Chifunzhi — " Shoulder." 

16. Owakafwa ngu mpampa, umudyezhina ngu mpampa. 
He who dies is Mpampa and the heir is also Mpampa. 
Answer : Ngongwa : — " A grub." 

17. Owakafwa ngu choye, umudyezhina ngu choye. 
He who died is Choye and the heir is also Choye. 
Answer : Mbwiya — " It is a thorn." 

18. Ku mulonga twakwatana Nkamba. 

At the river I had a wrestle with Nkamba. 
Answer : Mbutezhi — " A slippery place." 
Kukamba means to clutch : the man who made the riddle was 
at the river one day and slipped in the mud ; falling, he 
clutched the ground. Putting it into the form of an enigma 
to puzzle his hearers, he makes the word kamba (" clutch ") 
into a proper name Nkamba, and says he had a wrestle 
with him. 

19. Baambana bami. 

The chiefs are having a dispute. 
Answer : Matende — " The feet." 

20. Kakalo katazuminini. 

A little spring that never dries up. 

Answer : Ndinango dia umbwa — " It's a dog's nose." 

21. Mukamwami owakeza kupukwa ndi aba ikadi. 

The wife of a chief who came to have her hair dressed and 

became a resident. 
Answer : Nditovu — " It's a leaf." 








22. Ndatenta isokwe mubalo washala. 

I burnt the veld and the crooked stick remained. 
Answer : Ninzhila — " It's a road." 

23. Munganda ya muchembele mulatonkwa ishishi diomwi. 

Into the house of the- old man you can only push one firestick. 
Answer : Ndinango — " It's the nostril." 
i.e. You can only push one finger at a time into the nostril. 

24. Twamupa, twamunanga. 

We give it to him and then take it away. 
Answer : Inkidi — " A stamping-block," i.e. we put grain in 
and take it out as meal. 

25. Twakeenda oba ch' ambuka-ambuka. 

We travelled with those who were constantly going off the 

Answer : Mubwa — " A dog." 

26. Obadi awa kutaanzha. 
Those here do not salute. 
Answer : Ninkuku — " It is fowls." 

27. Kachea okachina tata. 

It is a small thing that choked my father. 
Answer : Tulo — " Sleep." Cf. No. 5. 
The word for "sleep " is a diminutive. 

28. Kaka kalonga menzhi katola kwi ? 

This little river, where does the water go to ? 
Answer : Chibia chidi a mudilo — " A pot on the fire." 
The point is the evaporation of the water in the pot. 

29. Muzovu tanwi u mukalo. 

The elephant does not drink from a spring. 
Answer : Mbwato — " It's a canoe." 

30. Twayaya munyama twadya bula, isalo twasowa. 

We killed an animal, ate the inside and threw away the 

Answer : Fulwe — " A tortoise." 

31. N day ay a intite, ibanda diezula buloa. 

I killed a little bird and the plain filled with blood. 
Answer : Mudilo — " Fire." 

32. Bula bwa shiluwe tabukala inzhi. 

The intestine of a leopard is not to be sat upon by a fly. 
Answer : Mudilo — " Fire." 

33. Ndo wanshia, ndo wanshia. 

My dear, you leave me ! My dear, you leave me ! 
Answer : Matende — " Feet." 


34. Bachungwe bakala isamo diomwi. 
The fish-eagles that sit on one tree. 
Answer : Matwi — " The ears." 

35. Umwesu munganda miikadi kaumbo katavhuniikulwa. 

At our home there is a little receptacle that is not to be 

Answer : Chilendi — " A grave." 

36. Kachea kadiiidi kezwile bulengwa Leza. 

The hole is small that is full of God's creation. 
Answer : Maila — -" Grain." 

37. Machela ataandana. 
Bellows-spouts which do not separate. 

Answer : Izuba mwezhi — " The sun and moon." 

38. Mbwakalnkankila. 
How he ran away ! 

Answer : Kabwenga — " A hyena." 

39. Ni kuluma tokusha. 

Although it bites you, you can't get rid of it. 
Answer : Mutwi — ■" The head." 

40. Ku kuya ndachiyana, ku kuzhoka shichiyene. 
Going I found it, returning I found it not. 
Answer : Mitme — " The dew." 

41. Kulampa nku baanzhika insazhi Bambala. 

It is high that the Bambala hang up their pots of fat. 
Answer : Mangvhuma — " Fruit of the palm." 

42. Kabwe ka lubanza tohakonzha kukapapula. 

A little stone in the courtyard which you cannot pull up 

with two hands. 
Answer : Mukofu — " A scar." 

43. Bana ba Mala balamba chilambo chomwi. 

People of Mala who all whiten themselves in one way. 
Answer : Bachihw angola — " White-breasted crows." 

44. Chakolela mushinze chiloba. 

The old thing endured the dark seven days. 
Answer : Inkidi — " A stamping-block." 

45. Ndadima munda kutebula mwitashi. 

I cultivated a field and the harvest was in my hand. 
Answer : Masusu — " The hair." 

46. Ulaamba zwanga chikutu udi umwini. 

The old dry thing talked tumultuously all by itself. 
Answer : Ndisamo — " It's a tree." 


47. Ndawala mwitala. 

Something I threw over to the other side of the river. 
Answer : Menso — " Eyes." 

The following are examples of another kind of riddle, 
in which the answer is given not in a word but in a phrase. 

48. Mbu bakaila. 

Answer : Obafwa tabazhoka. 

Since they went away ! The dead do not return ! 

49. Kwa lampa ! 

Answer : Okwa Leza nkule ! 

It is far ! And it's a long way to God ! 

Finally we may notice a series of riddles that are more 
than riddles. The enigma propounded is the same all the 
way through ; the answer takes different forms. They are 
a kind of catechism challenging the self-complacency of 
men who think they know everything. They seem like 
a weak echo of some passages in the Book of Job — 
" Knowest thou . . . ? Canst thou . . . ? " 1 

Nudi mwelwe — " You who are so clever ! " 

Mu chivhuna cha mbwila tozuba mo ! 
" You can't hide away under a bean plant ! " 

Nudi mwelwe — " You who are so clever ! " 

Ingombe ya kwenu divhwelene mukupa toiboni ! 
" When the milk of your cows is put together you can't tell 
which is which ! " 

Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! " 
Ing'ombe sha kwenu disangana ingombe ya beni toizhiba ! 
\\ " When your cow is mixed up with a stranger's herd you 

^ If 

can't distinguish it ! ,: 

Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! ' 

Ansonga sha masumo tokala 0. 
" You can't sit on the point of a spear." 

Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! ' 

Mwenzhi toanga mwavhu ! 
" You can't tie water in a lump ! ,; 

Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! " 

Menzhi ulaanga musantu ? 
" And can you tie water up in a bundle ? " 

1 We do not mean, of course, that they are copied from the Book of 
Job. They are indigenous sayings. 


Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! 

No mai a nkuku ulabona mudiango ? 
" Can you make out the doorway of a fowl's egg ? " 

Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! 

No muntu umishi ulamubona ati wedia udimishi ? 
" In the early days can you tell that a woman is pregnant ? " 

Nudi mwelwe ! — " You who are so clever ! 

Mishu ya nkuku wakebona P 
" Did you ever see a fowl's urine ? " 

Noba mwelwe !- — " You who have grown so clever ! ' 
Sa mukaintu ulamwizhiba ati udimishi mulombwana na 

mukaintu P 
" Can you tell whether the woman is pregnant of a male or 

female ? " 

Noba mwelwe I — " You' who have grown so clever ! 

Mai ulezhiba ati ledi iyi mukombwe na inseke ? 
" And as for eggs, do you know whether this egg is a cock or 
a hen ? " 

Noba mwelwe ! — " You who have grown so clever ! ,: 

Sa inzhila ulakeenzha nj'iela P 
" Can you follow up a road to where it ends ? " 

Noba mwelwe ! — " You who have grown so clever ! 

Sa lufu Iwako ulaluzhiba ati uzona ndafwa P 
" As for your own death, do you know whether you will die 
to-morrow ? " 

Noba mwelwe ! — " You who have grown so clever ! ' 

Sa chingvhule ulachikwata ? 
" Can you catch hold of a shadow ? " 

Noba mwelwe ! — " You who have grown so clever ! ' 

Sa chilonda chidi kunuma ulachitulula buti ? 
" If you have an abscess on your back, can you lance it 
yourself ? " 

Noba mwelwe ! — " You who have grown so clever ! 

Mubiabe sa ulamubwezha mwifu ati abote P 
" Can you put an ugly person back into the womb to be 
reborn handsome ? " 

3. Conundrums 

Besides their ordinary folk-tales, which are dealt with 
in the next chapter, the Ba-ila have stories which take 
the form of conundrums or problems. We have only got 


three examples of these. Their likeness to familiar problems 
in our own tongue is evident, especially the third one, 
but they seem to be genuinely native productions and not 
borrowed from Europeans. 1 

i . A certain man had five children, four sons and a daughter. 
He died, leaving his widow and the five children. Some time after- 
wards the daughter was missing, and nobody could make out what 
had become of her. 

The mother called her sons together and set them to finding 
their sister. They were remarkably gifted men. 

The eldest, by reason of his wisdom, was able to see things at a 
very great distance. On casting his eyes around he discovered his 
sister fifty miles away in the clutches of a lion. 

Consternation ! What was to be done ? The brothers went off. 

One of them, who had the gift of stealing in unseen, made himself 
invisible and was able to rescue his sister from the lion's claws. 

The lion on missing its prey went rampaging about, but the third 
brother killed it. 

Then they took up the girl and carried her home. But she was 
dead. On reaching home they began to make preparations for the 
funeral, but the fourth son said, " Wait ! " He went off into the 
forest, got some medicines, and restored her to life. 

The mother was overjoyed, and taking a large piece of meat she 
gave it to her sons, saying : " Eat, my sons. I give it you in gratitude 
for your cleverness and faithfulness." 

But the brothers said : " No, give it to only one of us — the one 
who did most in giving our sister back to you safe ! " 

Here is the problem : To whom was she to give the 
meat ? To him who discovered the girl first at a great 
distance ; to him who rescued her from the lion ; to him 
who killed the lion ; or to him who restored her to life ? 
Each seems dependent upon the others. Who got the 
meat ? 

Natives argue long and excitedly about this, but nobody 
has ever yet determined the question. It is said that once 
they took the problem to Lewanika and it was argued in 
the khotla at Lealui, but even he was baffled. 

2. A man and his wife went to visit their friends. On their 
return homewards they were accompanied by their respective mothers. 
On the road, the four were set upon by all manner of horrible 
creatures — lions, snakes, leopards, etc. etc. They managed to elude 
them and got to a river. 

1 Since writing these down we have read two similar ones in Congo 
Life and Folklore, by Rev. J. H. Weeks, pp. 43, 122. 


There they found a canoe, but to their horror it would only hold 
three people. Their enemies were pressing hard upon their trail. 
The river was full of crocodiles ; they couldn't hope to swim. Only 
three could escape. One must die ! Who was it to be ? 

The man sacrificed his mother-in-law, you say. No ! His wife 
would not allow him. She would not desert her mother, nor he his : 
the elders would not forsake their children. 

How did they get out of their difficulty ? 

The native answer is that they all sat down on the 
river-bank and died together. 

3. A man travelling with a leopard, a rat, a goat, and a basket 
of corn arrived at a river, and found that the only means of crossing 
was a very small canoe that would hold only himself and one other 
thing. He put the leopard into the canoe and started off : but as 
soon as his back was turned the rat commenced to eat the corn. 
' This won't do," said he - , " I shall have no corn left." 

He went back and took the rat ; but the leopard, now left behind, 
began to eat the goat. 

" This won't do," said he, " I shall have no goat left." 

He put back again. But when he came to select his load, he was 
puzzled. Should he sacrifice the rat or the leopard ? No, they were 
his children, he could not part with them. 

What, then, did he do ? 

The native answer is that he stayed where he was. 



A savage people is no more than a civilised people to be 
understood apart from its literature. The Ba-ila, like all 
the Bantu, have no written lore, it is true, but they have 
a considerable amount of oral lore ; and these fables and 
proverbs, myths and legends, handed down from generation 
to generation, ail throw a most vivid light upon the moral 
and mental constitution of the people. 

In this chapter we give, out of a larger collection, sixty- 
one examples of Ila tales, which were almost all written down 
by one of us from dictation, the only exceptions being those 
few, not more than six in all, which were written for us by 
intelligent natives. 1 Moreover, allowing for the translation, 
we have given them precisely as they were dictated or 
written, and the translation is as literal as possible con- 
sonant with smoothness and intelligibility. They might 
have been improved by altering the sequence of some 
sentences and pruning away some of the redundancies, 
but we did not wish so to retouch them as to obliterate 
the characteristics of the original. 

We have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that for us, 
at least, it is impossible to do justice to these tales, and we 
doubt if the most skilful hand could reproduce in a trans- 
lation the quaintness, the liveliness, and humour of the 
original. For one thing, fully to appreciate them one 

1 The originals of some of the tales will be found in the writer's Ila 
Handbook and Ila Reader No. 2 ("The Adventures of Sulwe and his 
Friends "). 


Photo E. IF. Smith. 



must be familiar, as only those who have always lived in the 
country can be familiar, with the characteristics of the 
animals spoken of ; and then they gradually lose flavour 
as they pass from the African's telling, first into writing 
and then into a foreign idiom. It would need a combination 
of phonograph and kinematograph to reproduce a tale as 
it is told. One listens to a clever story-teller, as was our 
old friend Mungalo, from whom we derived many of these 
tales. Speak of eloquence ! Here was no lip mumbling, 
but every muscle of face and body spoke, a swift gesture 
often supplying the place of a whole sentence. He would 
have made a fortune as a raconteur upon the English stage. 
The animals spoke each in its own tone : the deep rumbling 
voice of Momba, the ground hornbill, for example, con- 
trasting vividly with the piping accents of Sulwe, the hare. 
It was all good to listen to — impossible to put on paper. 
Ask him now to repeat the story slowly so that you may 
write it. You will, with patience, get the gist of it, but 
the unnaturalness of the circumstance disconcerts him, 
your repeated request for the repetition of a phrase, the 
absence of the encouragement of his friends, and, above 
all, the hampering slowness of your pen, all combine to 
kill the spirit of story-telling. Hence we have to be content 
with far less than the tales as they are told, And the 
tales need effort of imagination to place readers in the 
stead of the original listeners. 

It is at evening around the fires that the tales are told, 
especially on dark nights, when the people cannot dance 
so comfortably. Many of the tales are known far and wide, 
others in lesser areas. But, however often the people hear 
them, they never seem weary of the repetition. They never 
say, " Oh, that's an old tale," or make sarcastic references 
to chestnuts, but enter into the spirit of the thing all the 
more for knowing all that is to come. They heard the 
tales first as children from their mothers or grandmothers, 
but nevertheless they will, with no trace of boredom, 
come in with their ejaculations just at the right points, 
take, it may be, a sentence out of the narrator's mouth, 
or even keep up a running echo of his words. 

We have divided the tales into four parts. The first 

ch. xxviii FOLK-TALES 337 

contains etiological or explanatory myths. It is usual to 
regard savages as uneducated people, and, as far as books 
are concerned, they certainly are, but in the book of 
Nature they are well read. From an early age they learn 
to recognise the animals, to distinguish their footprints 
and cries, to know their names, their habitats and customs. 
And not only are they keen observers, they reflect on the 
facts, and, comparing the facts one with another, they want 
to know the reasons of things. They ask not so much, How ? 
as Why ? Why are things as they are ? Some of the 
questions are serious enough ; certain of them exercise the 
minds of cultured men among ourselves. Why are monkeys 
so like and yet so different from men ? How is it that men 
came to kill each other ? What is the origin of the domestic 
fire ? Other questions are more puerile. Why has the 
zebra alone of the banyama no horns ? Why does the 
honey-guide lead people to honey ? Why are the leopard 
and cheetah so much alike in appearance and so diverse 
in character ? The answers to such questions are embodied 
in tales. If the explanations are naive, they bear witness 
to considerable powers of observation and reflection, of 
imagination and humour. 

Data for answering these questions are almost entirely 
or quite absent. We could not ourselves give any rational 
answer to some of them. Why has the zebra no horns ? 
Who can say ? It is better to use the fact and construct 
an amusing, and, in this instance, an instructive tale upon 
it than simply not to ask the question and cease to take an 
interest in the matter. 

As for these explanations, it will be seen that none of 
them is assigned to any natural cause, but all to personal 
volition. And not always, indeed but rarely, to that of 
higher powers. It seems that in the ancient time, when 
things were still fluid, before animals and men had assumed 
their final forms, it was possible for one creature to affect 
another, favourably or adversely, by merely pronouncing 
its destiny. Thus Mintengwe, the blackbird, dooms '-the 
rest of the feathered tribe to persecution and death ; and 
tortoise confers on hare the dignity of pre-eminent wisdom. 
Here, of course, we have the world-wide belief in the efficacy 

vol. 11 z 


of the spoken word, whether for curse or blessing. It is 
significant that much of the destiny of the animals con- 
cerned is the outcome of lying and cheating. Many of 
them get what they want by downright chicane. Thus, 
in the beginning, the hippopotamus wore horns and the 
rhinoceros tusks, and the reverse state of things, as we see 
it to-day, has come through the former's thievery. Some- 
times, as in the case of the elephant and the wart-hog, 
an exchange of ornaments meant to be temporary is, by 
the treachery of one of the parties, made permanent. Some- 
times a promise is made and not fulfilled ; and so the 
tailless squirrel came into possession of the fine bushy tail 
of the coney, who ever since has been so ashamed of him- 
self that he lives in the obscurity of the rocks. Occasionally 
a plan is made to intoxicate invited guests for the purpose 
of robbing them of some coveted property ; it was in this 
way that the duiker got his handsome dress away from 
the oribi. And, once again, it is a common thing to get 
another person into trouble by leading people to believe 
that he and not yourself was the thief ; it was so that 
leopard and cheetah received their various destinies. In 
one case, it is not knavery but something like gratitude 
that settles the fate ; the lion is granted the kingship over 
the animal world because he helped the troubled tortoise 
by showing it how to dig a burrow. 

But, whether it springs from good or evil, it is always a 
person that affects the destiny. This, one may say, is 
typical of the higher native thought, that explains things 
not by mere self-acting dynamism but by the activity of 
the will. 

This assumes, of course, that the makers of these tales 
regarded these animals as persons capable of volition. 
We are not prepared to say that sophisticated listeners to 
these tales to-day all believe that animals act and speak 
like men, however eagerly they may receive the tales ; 
but most of the natives would, we believe, accept them 
as veridical. Perhaps some of them, if pressed hard, would 
turn round and say, as the little girl of our acquaintance 
once did, after a dramatical performance with her dolls 
and teddy bears: "we're only 'tending." But, however 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 339 

it may be with present-day retailers of the stories, we are 
confident that the tales arose in the stage of culture when 
the vital differences between men and animals were not 
yet recognised. In this respect it is significant that, gram- 
matically, the animals with few exceptions are classed as 
persons. The great scholar, Dr. Bleek, in the days when 
Bantu folklore was just beginning to be studied, imagined 
that all animal tales were derived from the Hottentots and 
Bushmen, because, their languages being " sex-denoting," 
it was easy and natural for them to personify animals, 
while the Bantu, owing to the nature of their languages, 
could not. We know now that, without being " sex- 
denoting," these languages have a remarkable facility for 
personification. In Ila, as in all Bantu tongues, the first 
class of nouns contains personal substantives. Thus chi-ntu 
("a thing"), of the seventh class, becomes mu-ntu ("a 
person ") by giving the root the personal prefix, mu-. In 
Suto the ordinary word for lion is tau ; in the tales it is 
motau (" Mr. Lion "). In Ila the names of animals mostly 
need no change of this kind, because they belong to the 
personal class. In form, such names as kabwenga (" hyena ") 
and chibizi (" zebra ") may appear to be neuter nouns of 
classes 6 and 7 respectively, but really they are of the first 
class, taking the plural prefix ba- and all the pronouns 
proper to those nouns ; that is to say, the animal is never 
referred to as ' it ' but always as "he." In the tales, 
if you did not know that Sulwe meant " hare," you would 
never dream it was not a person being spoken of. It was 
not unnatural for the makers of these tales to ascribe 
human characteristics to the lower animals, for they did 
not recognise any psychical difference between them and us. 
We have thrown into a separate division the tales which 
narrate the adventures of Sulwe, the hare. He deserves a 
section to himself. He is the most popular of all the 
dramatis personae. In the minds of the Ba-ila he embodies 
all subtlety. He is skilful in practical jokes; he is cruel, 
he is cunning, he is false ; a Macchiavel, a Tartuffe, a 
downright rogue. He should be a despicable character, 
but the Ba-ila shake and roll about with laughter as they 
listen, for the hundredth time, to his adventures. Nor 


can we resist joining in the laughter ; he is such a droll 
creature that we forget his treacherous conduct. 

Sulwe is only a small creature, but, with one exception, 
all the animals are as clay in his hands. He offers to nurse 
Mrs. Lion's children and eats them one bv one, meanwhile 
heartlessly deceiving the mother into thinking them still 
alive. He wants to drink beer at a feast, and on being 
told that no animal without horns may do so, he deliber- 
ately shapes himself horns of beeswax and mingles with 
the company, only to flee when the horns melt in the heat of 
the fire, though not before he has had his fill of beer. He 
entraps his fellows into all kinds of unpleasant situations. 
And so he dances his merry way through life. Only one 
animal gets the better of him and that is Fulwe, the Tortoise. 
In the expressive words of Uncle Remus about Brer 
Tarrypin : " Honey, he tuck n made a fool out'n 'im." 
In the famous race between the two animals Fulwe wins, 
not by patient running, but by cunningly hiding her family 
in numbers along the course, so that whenever Sulwe halts 
to jeer at his rival he hears a Tortoise ahead of him crying 
to him to Come on ! until after days of running he gives 
in exhausted, and the Tortoise, as fresh as ever, brings him 
water from the river that was their goal. And in the last 
act of this wonderful drama, it is Fulwe who finally beats 
Sulwe. There is a drought, and the animals meet to dig 
a well — all but Sulwe, who refuses to dig. He comes at 
night and cunningly manages to tie up the sentries one 
after another ; then Fulwe offers to keep watch, has him- 
self covered with birdlime, and when Sulwe brushes past 
him in contempt he sticks fast, and the more he fights the 
faster he sticks, and is ignominiously slain by his enraged 

These two creatures, Sulwe and Fulwe, who, in the minds 
of the Ba-ila, are rivals in cunning and far surpass the 
other animals, are in many respects the very antithesis the 
one of the other : the Tortoise is the slowest as the Hare 
is the swiftest. It is not difficult to understand why the 
Hare should be regarded as he is. He is extremely wary ; 
as poachers and others in England know, it is most difficult 
to entrap him. He has the power, more than most animals, 




of lying low and saying nothing. You may step over him 
in the veld and never know he is there. We were once 
pitching our tent in the bush — standing with a number of 
men together, when from out, it seemed, beneath our 
feet there darted a hare. The incident caused immense 
excitement among our men, and that night, and for many 
nights afterwards, it was cited as an example of Sulwe's 
amazing wisdom. He had come, they declared, especially 
to study the white man and his ways, and having seen all, 
had gone off to tell the other animals. And, of course, 
this swiftness of foot which enables him so quickly to 
escape from his enemies, is another element in his reputa- 
tion for cleverness. The wisdom of Fulwe, the Tortoise, 
is, on the other hand, founded on its power of shutting 
itself up tightly in its shell and the difficulty of killing it. 
So we have two types of cunning — the active and the 
passive ; the one which gains by nimbleness, the other by 
quiescence ; the one goes abroad to seek its victims, the 
other circumvents those who come to it. And in the 
estimation of the Ba-ila, the slow-moving, passive, unde- 
monstrative kind of cunning is the one that wins in the 
long run. 

In sketching these animals, not Sulwe and Fulwe only, 
but all the animals in these tales, the Ba-ila are sketching 
themselves. The virtues they esteem, the vices they con- 
demn, the follies they ridicule — all are here in the animals. 
It is a picture of Ba-ila drawn by Ba-ila, albeit unconsciously, I ', 
and valuable accordingly. In the hero, Sulwe, we may 
find some at least of the characteristics that the African 
most admires. The tales show us that he esteems mind 
above physical strength, brain above brawn. The Elephant 
and the Lion are types of the latter, the Hare of the former, 
and Sulwe always wins ; if at last he is beaten it is only 
by superior cunning. In real life among the Bantu, it 
is not so much a Hector as an Odysseus that pre- 
vails ; even in those cases where, as with Moshesh and 
Chaka and Sebitwane, the chief is also a great warrior, 
he does more by subtlety than by the assegai. The 
greatest figure in Basuto history is not Moshesh but Mohlomi, 
the mystic and seer. The most powerful persons, because 


most feared, among the Ba-ila are the munganga and 
musonzhi, the doctor and diviner, who with much know- 
ledge have also abundance of wit and cunning. Yes, the 
Ba-ila appreciate mind, but the type that appeals most 
to them is the Sulwe type or the Fulwe type : to get the 
better of one's neighbours without being found out — that 
is wisdom. We wonder in reading these tales that the 
great beasts should so readily be deceived ; could they not 
see through Sulwe's specious lying and clumsy stratagems ? 
Our wonder ceases when here, too, we recognise a picture 
of the people. Along certain lines the Ba-ila are the most 
credulous of men ; the greatest liar finds the readiest cred- 
ence. We have only to think of the various " prophets " 
that arise with marvellous claims, and the way in which 
they jockey the people into parting with their goods, to 
realise that Sulwe is no overdrawn picture. 

We have no intention of making an excursion into the 
fields of comparative folklore, but it is worth while, per- 
haps, just to point out in a paragraph that similar tales 
to these we give are told throughout Africa. Indeed it 
might be claimed that Africa is the home of animal tales. 
Was not the greatest fabulist of all an African ? — the 
famous Lokman to whom Mohammed inscribed the 31st 
Sura of the Koran, and whom the Greeks, not knowing his 
real name, called Aesop, i.e. Ethiops ? Be that as it may, 
we can claim the stories of Uncle Remus as African in 
origin; they were taken by the slaves across to America. 
Brer Rabbit, Brer Tarrypin, and many others in that col- 
lection, are the same as our Sulwe and Fulwe and the rest. 
Not only are similar tales told by the Ba-ila to-day, but 
actually, allowing for certain changes of detail due to the 
different environment, the same tales. An excellent example 
is given on p. 377 : the tug-of-war between Hippo and 
Rhino is that in " Brer Tarrypin shows his Strength " in 
Uncle Remus. We have inserted, notes at the foot of the 
tales, drawing attention to resemblances we have noticed 
between the Ba-ila tales and those from other peoples. 

The persistence of the same incidents in tales coming 
from such widely separate African tribes is not to be 
accounted for by any hypothesis of borrowing, but seems 



to point to the fact that before the Bantu migrated from 
their original home in the north, they already possessed 
these tales. If that is so, we are dealing with things not of 
yesterday, but of two or three thousand years ago. That 
would not, of course, apply to all the tales, many of them 
may be quite modern. The day will come perhaps, when, 
by comparing such collections of tales from different parts 
of the field, we shall be able to get some idea which are 

The remaining sections of our collection contain respec- 
tively tales of people and animals, and tales of people — 
mostly fools. These will speak for themselves and do 
not require much by way of introduction. 

Many of them have a special name given to them, i.e. 
Kashimi. All the other tales were made, and are told, for 
amusement, with no didactic purpose, but these have a 
definite aim. They end with the words : Inzho bamushima, 
which means, " And so they make a byword of him, put 
him on record as an example not to be followed." A nag- 
ging woman, an ungrateful, cruel son, a querulous wife, a 
man who hurts himself, a naughty child, silly women who 
entrust their children to old hags, fools who do not under- 
stand — all are put on record as solemn or humorous warn- 
ings to the younger generation. 

In these latter tales there is apparent a certain strait- 
ness of fancy. By taking animals and not men as the usual 
figures of the tales they are following instinctively a safer 
path. Animals are a more fluid medium than men. In 
dealing with men the fabulist encounters obstructions to 
his imagination. In speaking of them men must not cease 
to be men, otherwise hearers can always say they have 
never known such beings. But in telling about animals 
he has the advantage that they are comparatively un- 
known ; their forms and habits may be familiar enough, 
but not their inward life, and a large part of their outward 
life is also unknown. He has therefore a wide field, he can 
keep up the names of the animals and certain well-known 
habits, and all the rest he can fill in out of his own mind ; 
they act as he might act if he were not so hampered by the 
limitation of human power. To his mind those limitations 


are not drawn so straitly as they are with ourselves. Without 
going beyond what he believes to be actual human 
experience, he can conceive the animals doing things 
which we should deem out of all reason, and from these 
he can glide into highly imaginative situations without 
too rude a shock to the credulity of his hearers. He lifts 
the curtain surrounding them and portrays his heroes 
doing things themselves would like to do but cannot. And 
the minds of the listeners are turned from the cramping 
actualities of life into the wider, freer, ideal world, and so 
find relief and refreshment. 

To us there is a lack of coherence in many of the details, 
and explicit contradictions pull us up and spoil our pleasure, 
as when Fulwe, after being cooked and eaten, gives Sulwe 
his doom. But such things do not annoy the Ba-ila or 
detract from their enjoyment. For one thing Fulwe, 
though dead, lives in his race ; it is a mere accident that 
one individual dies ; it is the ideal Fulwe, not the Fulwe 
who merely breathes, but the Fulwe in the narrator's mind, 
and he is immortal. 

If we cannot always appreciate the humour of these 
tales, we have to remember that ideas of humour vary 
according to race. Certainly to the Ba-ila they are full 
of humour ; they roll about and laugh themselves almost 
into hysterics when they hear the tales. What are the 
things that appeal thus to them ? 

First of all, they find exquisite delight in the buffoonery. 
The rough, practical jokes of Sulwe, with his absurd dressing 
up, his slashing and chopping, his breaking of teeth, and 
all the rest of it, are distinctly humorous to them. And 
it must be said, too, that to them facility in deception is 
humorous. Sulwe owes his popularity very largely to his 
unveracity and his diabolical skill in deceiving those bulkier 
than himself. And as with ourselves, the element of in- 
congruity in many of these situations appeals to their 
sense of humour. The incongruity between Hare and 
Elephant in point of size, makes them laugh when the 
little ties up the big. The mildness of the Hare and the 
ferocity of the Lion in actual life make it all the more amus- 
ing when Sulwe ties the Lion up and deceives him in other 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 345 

ways. One of the stories full of humour to them is that of 
the Hippo and Rhino. When one asks the other for his 
razor and he replies that he took it to shave his wife with, 
we have a very incongruous, scene ; the idea of such huge, 
unwieldy creatures using a small delicate instrument such 
as a razor, and the fact that neither of them has much 
hair to speak of, and so needs no shaving — this is what 
constitutes the humour. Smart sayings, clever retorts, 
and cryptic utterances also appeal to their sense of humour. 
When, for example, Hare, carrying unknown to himself his 
mother in a bundle, and greeted the first time in a village, 
makes no answer, his companions, who know the secret, 
give cryptic replies which puzzle Sulwe ; he discovers the 
secret, and is ready with his reply when next he is greeted : 
" Cunning he has who cunning has," says he. That is all a 
very amusing incident to the Ba-ila. And they delight 
also in plays on words and the mistakes people make in 
misunderstanding words that are similar in pronunciation 
but different in meaning. General obtuseness of mind is 
also humorous to them. It is these things which give 
point to the stories of fools, of which we give a few examples. 
It may be said in conclusion, that man's common human- 
heartedness is in these tales. Grief and joy are shown to 
touch the same chords in their breasts as in ours. How 
simply, yet how touchingly, are the fundamental human 
emotions described : the love of parents, the grief that 
accompanies bereavement, the joy in offspring — these, as 
well as the jealousy, the envy, the malice of our human 
nature find place here. Separated by deep gulfs as they 
are from ourselves in many things, yet across the abysses 
we can clasp hands in a common humanity. 

Part I 
Etiological or Explanatory Tales 

1. How the Mason-Wasp fetched Fire from God 

Vulture, Fish-eagle, and Crow were without fire, for there 
was no fire on earth. So, needing fire, all the birds assembled 


together and asked : ' Whence shall we find fire ? ' Some 
of the birds said : " Perhaps from God." Thereupon 
Mason-Wasp volunteered, saying: " Who will go with me 
to God?" Vulture answered and said: 'We will go 
with you, I and Fish-eagle and Crow." 

So on the morrow they took leave of all the other birds, 
saying : " We are going to see whether we can get fire from 
God." Then they flew off. After they had spent ten days 
on the road, there fell to earth some small bones — that was 
Vulture ; later, there also fell to earth some other small 
bones — that was Fish-eagle ; Mason-Wasp and Crow were 
left to go on alone. When the second ten days were ended, 
there fell other small bones to earth — that was Crow. Mason- 
Wasp was left to go on by himself. When the third ten 
days were over, he was going along, reposing upon the 
clouds. Nevertheless he never reached the summit of 
the sky. 

As soon as God heard of it, He came to where Mason- 
Wasp was, and answering His question Mason-Wasp said : 
" No, Chief, I am not going anywhere particular, I have 
only come to beg some fire. All my companions have 
stopped short ; but, nevertheless, I have persevered in 
coming, for I had set my heart upon arriving to where 
the Chief is." Thereupon God answered him, saying : 
" Mason-Wasp, since you have reached Me, you shall be 
chief over all the birds and reptiles on earth. You, now, I 
give a blessing. You shall not have to beget children. 
When you desire a child, go and look into a grainstalk 
and you will find an insect whose name is Ngongwa. When 
you have found him, take and carry him into a house. 
When you arrive in the house, look out for the fireplace 
where men cook, and build there a dwelling for your child 
Ngongwa. When you have finished building, put him in 
and let him remain there. When many days have elapsed, 
just go and have a look at him ; and one day you will 
find he has changed and become just as you are yourself." 

So it is to-day : Mason- Wasp builds a house, looking for 
the fireplace, just as he was commanded by God. 

Note. — The Mason-Wasp, the Prometheus of the Ba-ila, with 
its indigo-blue wings, yellow abdomen, and black and orange legs, 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 347 

is a common, object in Central Africa. It builds its cell of mud 
not only on the- fireplaces, as the tale narrates, but also (and in 
this is a great nuisance) on walls, books, and pictures in one's dwelling. 
In the cell it lays its eggs, together with a caterpillar or grub, and 
seals them up ; then it builds other cells, until quite a large unsightly 
lump of clay is left on the wall. As the young grubs hatch out 
they eat the insects which have been benumbed, but not killed, by 
the sting of their parent. We have here an interesting example of 
how the observation of natives is correct up to a certain point ; but 
not taking into consideration, because they have not noticed, all the 
facts, the conclusion they draw is wrong. They suppose Ngongwa 
to metamorphose into a Mason-Wasp ; and this tale is to explain 
why it is so, as well as to account for the domestic fire. 

2. The Story of the Blue- J ay who married the Daughter 

of God 

Long ago Blue-Jay had a wife. After a time he went 
to God ; he went to seek the Daughter of God as his wife. 
God replied : ' Since you ask for her, you must not take 
her to the earth, you must stay just here in the sky. 
Because, if you take her to the earth, she may not eat 
meat of Zebra or Gnu or Kudu ; of any large animal she 
may not eat. If you desire to carry her to earth, let her 
eat only of the smaller animals." Blue- Jay answered : "It 
is well, Chief." 

So Blue-Jay was allowed to bring the Daughter of God 
to earth. Upon his arrival on earth he told these things 
to his earthly wife, saying : "I was told by God that His 
child may not eat of Zebra or Gnu or Kudu ; she may not 
eat of any large animal." These things he told his wife 
and mother ; when they heard them, his mother said : "It 
is well, my child." Nevertheless his wife was terribly 

One day Blue-Jay went off hunting. He went and 
killed a Zebra and a young Duiker. When he returned to 
his first wife, he ordered her, saying : ' You must on no 
account give my wife the meat of the Zebra. Let her eat 
only of the young Duiker." His wife replied : ' It is well." 

Another day while Blue- Jay was out walking, the old 
wife deceived her fellow, the Daughter of God, giving her 
zebra meat and saying : " Eat, it is young Duiker." But 
she was simply deceiving her. As soon as the Daughter of 


God ate it, she died. Then Blue-Jay returned ; on his 
arrival he asked : " My wife ! What has she died of ? ' 
The old wife replied : " I don't know." 

Nevertheless God had seen her from the sky. Said He : 
" It is that one yonder who killed My child." 

Thereupon Blue-Jay returned to the sky ; on arrival 
he went to tell the news, saying : " My wife is dead, Chief." 
God answered, saying : " You forgot the orders I gave you 
that My child must not eat of Zebra or Gnu or Kudu ; 
nevertheless, there on earth you went and gave her it. She 
ate and died." Then Blue- Jay replied : "It may be so, 
Chief." God answered : " Return." 

When thirty days had passed, God gathered together 
a small cloud. Then He opened wide His mouth and 
thundered. After a time He descended and swept open the 
grave in which His child was buried ; He took her out and 
carried her to the sky. Nevertheless, Blue-Jay did not 
survive ; He took him away also. When He arrived mid- 
way He thrust him down to earth ; but he never arrived : 
only some small bones reached the ground. He died just 
there midway. To this very day this is what Blue-Jay 
does : when he flies he goes up into the air with a loud cry ; 
on the point of descending he dies. 

Note. — This idea of Chikambwe's fate is still prevalent, so that 
any one in charge of a child will, on seeing the bird, distract the 
child's attention from it, lest by seeing or hearing it the child should 
become like it in dying a sudden death. Its feathers are made into 
a charm against a similar fate. 

The tale illustrates, as we have seen, the Ba-ila conception of 
God (see p. 207). Blue- Jay, it is evident, is held responsible for 
the wrong-doing of his household. 

3. How God first gave Men Grain and Fruits 

Long ago when God caused men to descend to earth, He 
gave them grain, and said : " Take good care of the grain." 
On their arrival, they cultivated the grain and got a fine 
harvest. When they had gathered it, they put it into their 
temporary bins. Having put it into their temporary bins, 
they ate ; they ate bread, but (extravagant people) they ate 



during the day. Having eaten all day, they said : ' This 
great quantity- of meal will never get finished, whereas we 
are altogether satisfied." So as they were filled, they said : 
" Let us burn the grain." And they rose up with fire- 
brands and burnt the grain. After they had burnt all the 
grain, famine came upon them. However, he alone who 
had come as their leader, did not burn his. Thereupon all 
the people flocked out of the village and went to gather 
fruit. And God gave them fruits, saying : " Here are 
fruits, you foolish people ; I gave you great quantities of 
grain, and when you had eaten of it you burnt the rest. 
Now, as you have burnt it, you will have to eat only mantembe 
and mankolongwa and busala." And so, truly, since He said 
that, to this day the people have found it so. To this day, 
people act in this manner. They destroy the grain, they 
waste it ; some brew beer, others follow their own inclina- 
tions. When the grain is finished, they have to go after 
mankolongwa and mantembe and busala. To this day they 
eat those roots. 

4. Why Men became Baboons 

Long ago Baboons were men ; their clan was the 
Bankontwe. In the years of long ago they were just as 
men are. They got their living on earth by stealing. After 
a time they said : " As we have become lazy, let us go into 
the veld." They went off to live in the veld. When they 
reached the veld they ate wild fruits. After a time they 
said : " We cannot live well on these fruits, and as for 
returning to the village we cannot return, so let us just 
steal from the fields." To this day, as soon as they see a 
man's field they send their servant to spy out the land. 
When he arrives, he looks round and climbs a tree ; if 
he finds that the owner is not there, he goes back to tell 
them and takes them some maize. On his arrival he says : 
" Here is some maize ; there are no people." Then they 
come. When they reach the field, they break off all the 
maize and steal. When they have finished stealing they 
go away. To look at their hands and feet they are human, 
all but the hair and overhanging forehead. 


Note. — Similar tales from other parts of the world are mentioned 
by Tylor (Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 376). 

There is still a Bakontwe clan, the members of which are some- 
times called baboons and thieves. On the other hand, baboons are 
often called bankontwe. 

5. The Explanation of the Origin of Murder 

A woman had a child. One day she went to work in the 
fields. When she was going to her work the child cried. 
When it stopped crying she suckled it, and when she had 
finished suckling it she laid it down in the shade. Then she 
went on hoeing. Once again the child cried, and a bird came 
— an Eagle — and sat upon it. It soothed the child with its 
wings. Then the child which was crying became silent. 
When she saw this the woman was greatly alarmed ; said 
she : ' ' Dear me ! I am amazed ; the Eagle is eating my 
child." When she went towards it the Eagle flew away, and 
she suckled her child. When she had done suckling it she 
put it upon her back. When she had finished hoeing, she 
left off work and returned to the village. 

On her arrival there, she did not tell her husband the 
marvel she had seen but kept it to herself. Next morning, 
once again the woman went to work in the field with her 
child. The same thing happened ; once again she laid the 
child to sleep in the shade. After a time the child cried. 
Then she beheld the Eagle come on to the child and quieten 
it. The woman was again amazed, and said : " What is 
that Eagle doing ? It is sitting upon my child, but it neither 
bites nor scratches it — no, and then the child is quiet. Truly 
an astounding thing ! ' Once again the woman went to her 
child. When the Eagle saw her coming, it flew off and went 
to sit on a tree. The woman took her child and was greatly 

She returned to the village, and on her arrival told 
her husband about it, saying : "A great marvel ! ' Her 
husband answered, saying : " What about ? " The woman 
said : " To-day is the second day I have seen the thing 
there where I hoe. This did I : I put my child to sleep in 
the shade, and as soon as it cried an Eagle came, and on its 
arrival stooped over its body and soothed it with its wings. 

ch. xxviii FOLK-TALES 351 

To-day is the second day that I have seen that bird act 
thus. Its name is Eagle." Thereupon the husband refused 
to believe, saying : ' No, you are lying ; there never was 
such a thing." The wife said no more. 

In the afternoon she took her hoe and went late to work 
in the field. On her arrival she laid her child in the shade. 
The child cried. Thereupon the woman thought : " Now 
I will go and call my husband, who disputed my word and 
said I lied." So the woman ran. When she arrived where 
her husband was, she said : " Come on ! It is you who 
disputed, saying there never was such a thing. Let us go 
and see now." 

The man took his bow and three arrows. On his arrival 
the woman told him, saying : "Sit here, I will put the child 
to sleep in the shade yonder, and then, when you see the 
bird coming, hide yourself." The woman left the child and 
went away some distance, and the man hid himself there. 
Then the child cried very loudly. As he was watching, he 
saw the Eagle come and sit upon the child. Then the man 
was greatly alarmed, and charged his bow with two arrows 
that he might pierce the Eagle sitting on his child. Then 
he shot ; but at the moment of shooting the Eagle dodged, 
and both arrows pierced his child. 

Now that is the explanation of the origin of murder. 
The Eagle was a kind person, nevertheless the father of the 
child wished to kill it. Then the Eagle cursed him, saying : 
" Now is kindness among men at an end ; because you 
killed your child, beginning with you and going on to all 
people, you shall kill each other." To this day people kill 
each other. 

Note. — For a parallel to this story among the Lokele people of 
the Congo, see Sir H. H. Johnston, Grenfell and the Congo, vol. ii. 
pp. 819, 820. 

6. How the Ringdove came by its Ring 

Blackbird, Ringdove, and all the birds were met together. 
The Ringdove opened the conversation by addressing 
Blackbird, saying : ' Here where we are met together, who 
is the most beautiful ? ' All the birds answered : ." Black- 
bird is the only beautiful one. How very black he is ! " 


Then the Ringdove said to himself : "As for me, I am going 
to ask for medicine that I may be like Blackbird." So 
Ringdove made his petition, saying : " Blackbird, transform 
me, so that we may be alike." Blackbird answered, saying : 
" I will show you to-morrow. When we are all met together, 
and Lapwing is there, and Kestrel and Eagle and Francolin 
and Tomtit and Guinea- Fowl, when the birds of all species 
are met together, I will show you the medicine." At that 
Ringdove was very grateful, and said : "I shall be very 
thankful to be like you." 

On the morrow, all the birds were gathered together 
feeding in the cool of the morning. Then Blackbird came 
to where they were assembled, and said : " Ringdove, you 
are wanting medicine ? " " Yes," he replied. Said Black- 
bird : " Come here." So Ringdove went. Blackbird put 
his ringer around Ringdove's neck, and so you see how 
it is that Ringdove is like Blackbird in being black around 
the neck. Thereupon all the birds were astounded. Another 
bird said : " You shall give me medicine also." Blackbird 
said : " What will you give me ? " All the birds answered : 
" If only you will give us the medicine, you shall do to us 
just whatever you please." Blackbird then told them : 
" To-morrow I will give you all medicine, so that you may 
become black." 

On the morrow, Blackbird arose very early and went 
into the forest, where he found some Guinea- Fowl eating 
termites. "What are you eating?" he asked. Guinea- 
Fowl answered : " Termites." Thereupon Blackbird said : 
" It is you who begged medicine from me, whereas you eat 
earth and insects. Now, as that is what you eat, I will not 
give you medicine. You, Guinea-Fowl, I will give you a 
speckled coat so that you resemble a Leopard, and when a 
Leopard finds you he will eat you — all because you do not 
eat as I eat ; you always eat insects that live in the earth. 
And you, Francolin, you shall be red about the mouth and 
on the head, and you shall always eat the grain belonging 
to other people, and then you shall always be trapped by 
people and they shall trouble you. All the birds who begged 
from me, I give them in the same manner, things good for 
them or things not good for them." 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 353 

Thereupon Ringdove, he about whose neck that finger 
had been encircled, he also was cursed and told : " And 
you also, Ringdove, you shall always eat the grain belonging 
to men, so that you may die. All the birds I condemn 
because they begged for medicines, saying : ' Let us be like 
Blackbird ' ; whereas in truth they do not at all resemble 
me, they do not act as I act nor eat as I eat. To be alike 
in the fashion of our bodies ! No, I refuse." So Ring- 
dove has colour around the neck where Blackbird's finger 
encircled it. In that alone they are alike ; and as for 
the rest of the birds, they are in trouble, they are killed, 
they are ensnared, they are persecuted. Some are 
caught in traps. And all because they were cursed by 

Note. — In Uncle Remus the speckled coat of the Guinea-Fowl is 
explained by a cow having sprinkled milk over its blue skin. 

7. How Ringdove got her Name — 
' Giver-of-happiness-to-men-to-girls-not-so-much.' ' 

Ringdove and Grey Hornbill gave birth to children in 
the same house. Ringdove bore a beautiful child, a girl ; 
Hornbill also bore a female child, but it was ugly : so they 
nursed their children in the same house. One day Hornbill 
said to Ringdove : " Let us go and gather some food for 
our children." Said Ringdove : " Yes, let us go." So they 
went out, leaving the children in the house, and departed 
to gather food for their children. After going some distance, 
Hornbill said : " Let us separate." Ringdove said : " Yes, 
all right." 

So they parted, Hornbill planning to go in one direction, 
and Ringdove going in another. Hornbill made haste and 
returned home, and finding the children alive and well she 
fed her child while Ringdove was still going gathering food. 
Now when Hornbill looked upon her child she saw that it 
was ugly, and when she looked at the child of Ringdove 
she saw that it was beautiful. So she took her child and 
went and threw it away in the veld. Coming back, she 
took Ringdove's child and went away with it into another 
country. When Ringdove returned home she found her 

VOL. II 2 A 


child missing, and Hornbill's child missing, and Hornbill 
herself missing also. 

Thereupon Ringdove was distressed, and began to weep 
for her child ; then she went to Fish-eagle to have the matter 
divined. Fish-eagle said : "I am Fish-eagle, He-whose- 
business-cannot-be-brought-to-an-end ! Did you give birth 
in the same house with Hornbill ? ' " Yes," answered 
Ringdove, " we gave birth in the same house." Said 
Fish-eagle: "As for your child, Ringdove, Hornbill has 
stolen her and thrown away her own child." Then Ringdove 
said : " Well, Fish-eagle, where has Hornbill taken my child 
to ? " Said Fish-eagle : "To Mala ; to-day she is married : 
she is the wife of a chief." Ringdove said to Fish-eagle : 
" Allow me to go to Mala to find my child." Said Fish-eagle : 
" Yes, go, and you will find your child, Ringdove." 

When she reached Mala she found her child married to a 
chief. On her arrival she said : " Chief, this whom you have 
married is nty child." The chief who had married Ringdove's 
daughter said : " No, my wife is the daughter of Hornbill." 
Then the chief killed Ringdove, whose daughter he had 
married. Thereupon that child of Ringdove said : " It is a 
good thing I am married as my mother is dead." 

To this day Ringdove is Giver-of-happiness-to-men- 
to- girls-not-so-much. It is said, When Ringdove stretches 
out her wings you must say : " Make me happy, O 
Chinakaduedue, Giver-of-happiness-to-men-to-girls-not-so- 
much." The saying is, When Ringdove then flies off, it 
means that she blesses you. 

Note. — This tale is meant to account for the belief in the 
Ringdove as a bird of good omen, the giver of happiness. When a 
person sees the bird spread out its wings in a certain way, he spits 
on the ground as an offering to the bird, and says : " Chinakaduedue, 
Chisangidila-ku-balombe-ku-bashimbi-ndukubakuba nsangila " — " You, 
Chinakaduedue, Giver - of - happiness - to - men - to - girls - not - so - much, 
make me happy." Then he says : Yansangidila, ndikwete cholwe 
— " It makes me happy (or, it spreads out its wings for me). 
I have got good fortune." The word in Ila "to be happy " is 
kusangidilwa, the root of which, sanga, is a widely-spread one, occur- 
ring in Nyanja, Lenje, Lala, Wisa, Senga, Kongo, Ganda, and Swahili, 
always with the same meaning. Sangidila would mean " spread 
out the wings on behalf of somebody," and that may be the idea 
in their mind, i.e. that in some way the spreading of the wings 

ch. xxvm FOLK-TALES 355 

brings happiness. Or perhaps sanga may have had two meanings 
at some time, and then it was fancied that they must be connected 
and the story was invented to explain the connection. Be that as 
it may, the dove is associated with happiness among many peoples. 
It is for that reason, so we may suppose, that so often it has its 
place in marriage customs. Perhaps it is for some such reason that 
it has been so widely domesticated from antiquity and that it had 
a sacrosanct character among the Hebrews and other Semites. And 
it may be for the same reason that the Ba-ila so frequently have 
dovecotes in their villages. 

The significant part of the name ChinakadMedne is probably 
onomatopoeic, cf. Hebrew, tor, Latin, turtur. 

8. How Honey-guide came to have Authority over Honey 

Honey-guide and Capped Wheatear lived together in one 
place at first and ate out of one dish. Honey-guide was 
the elder, Wheatear the younger. They set their minds on 
going to hunt for honey, and it happened when they arrived 
in the vicinity of the honey that Honey-guide said : " Smile, 
Wheatear, when you see where the honey is." Wheatear 
smiled, but he did not see the honey; when Honey-bird 
smiled he had seen it. That is what they did, and then 
they returned, leaving the honey behind. On their arrival 
at where they were staying, Wheatear quietly disappeared 
and went off to steal the honey. 

Next morning Honey-guide said : " Let us go to our 
honey." There they found a bit of bare honeycomb 
mangled and thrown about, so he asked Wheatear about it, 
and Wheatear replied : " My brother, I have seen neither 
it nor him who has stolen the honey. Since we came out 
yesterday nobody has come back here to demolish the 
honey in this way." And once again Wheatear said to 
Honey-guide: "As for me, I could not eat any of this 
honey unless you had given it to me." 

So then Honey-guide said no more, and they went out again 
looking for honey. Once more they found some honey. 
Honey-guide saw it before Wheatear did, and he tested Wheat- 
ear by saying : "Smile . " Wheatear said : "I cannot see the 
honey, smile yourself, my brother." Honey-guide said : "No, 
child, smile." So Wheatear smiled and he saw the honey ; 
then Honey-guide asked him : " What do you see ? " Wheat- 


ear said : "It looks as if it might be flies fluttering before 
the eyes." Honey-guide said : " Haven't you seen it ? ' 
But Wheatear was deceiving him, for he saw the honey all 
the time. When Honey-guide was about to smile, he saw 
the honey and said : " Let us cut down the tree to get it." 
Wheatear refused, saying : " No. As you said yesterday 
that I stole the honey, well, I am Wheatear ! Let us 
bring some bird-lime and set a trap beside the honey, 
then if it be I who steal the honey you will catch me." 
" Good business," replied Honey-guide. 

They went off to get some bird-lime from the humans. 
Then when they arrived at their village, Honey-guide said : 
" We will come to-morrow to set the trap." But after a 
time Honey-guide quietly disappeared and went off to set 
the bird-lime at the honey. Said Wheatear to himself : 
" Let me go quietly and eat the honey," but the bird-lime 
was set already, although he did not notice it. When he 
thought of sitting down beside the honey, he sat on the 
bird-lime. Said he, " I will strike it with my wing," but 
he stuck to it. And when he struck with his tail he stuck 
to it. When he wanted to draw back his right wing, it was 
stuck fast. He tried to strike it with his breast but he 
stuck. When he attempted to bite it with his beak, he 
bit the bird-lime. Why, then he simply died for lack of 

Then Honey-guide appeared on the scene after he had 
looked for him at the village, and he found him already 
a dead man. Then he mocked him, saying : " Wheatear, 
smile ! " As he was dried up, he said that was the reward of 
thievery. " From to-day you will not steal any more. The 
chieftainship is mine over honey and to be extolled by 
people ! As for you, from to-day your portion shall be bird- 
lime already spread, and thus you will be killed by people." 

Now since they separated there on account of thievery, 
Wheatear belongs to bird-lime and Honey-guide is still 
extolled. While he talked like this, Honey-guide was stand- 
ing upon the corpse of Wheatear. They became distinct 
in other directions, while their cry remained the same, and to 
this day Wheatear's portion is bird-lime and to be entrapped 
by men. 

ch. xxviii FOLK-TALES 357 

9. Why Honey-guide betrays the Bees to People 

Honey-guide went to look for a wife in Bee-town. On his 
arrival there he said : "I want a wife." The Bees gave 
him a wife, but after a time they took her away from him. 
When they took her away, Honey-guide said : " Since you 
refuse me my wife, I shall simply go and tell tales about you 
to the people who pass along the road." 

Since he said that, to this day when he sees a person 
passing, he takes him and goes to show him the bees. 

Note from Livingstone's Missionary Travels, p. 479. — " December 
2, 1855. We remained near a small hill called Maundo, where we 
began to be frequently invited by the Honey-guide (Cuculus indicator). 
Wishing to ascertain the truth of the native assertion that this bird 
is a deceiver and by its call sometimes leads to a wild beast and 
not to honey, I inquired if any of my men had ever been led by 
this friendly bird to anything else than what its name implies. 
Only one of the 114 could say he had been led to an elephant instead 
of a hive, like myself with the black rhinoceros mentioned before. 
I am quite convinced that the majority of people who commit 
themselves to its guidance are led to honey and to it alone." The 
exceptions are numerous enough to earn for Solwe the name of 
liar. There is a Ba-ila clan of the Bana-Solwe, the members of which 
are nicknamed " the liars." 

10. How Squirrel robbed Coney of his Tail. 

Coney and Squirrel were brothers-in-law and always 
dwelt harmoniously together. But after some time Squirrel 
said : " Brother-in-law, let me have your tail to walk 
about with, I will return it." But Coney refused, saying : 
" No ; am I to remain tailless ? " Squirrel left off asking, 
but after some days he returned and said : " Truly, brother- 
in-law, you refused me your tail though I said I wanted 
simply to walk about with it and would bring it back." 
Then Coney consented and lent his tail to Squirrel, who 
said : "I will bring back your tail in eight days' time." 

Then Squirrel went home. On his arrival there, his 
people said : " Wherever did you get that fine tail ? ' 
Said he : ' My brother-in-law gave it to me." They re- 
plied : " You are blest indeed ! You have got a line tail." 

When the eight days had passed, did Squirrel return the 
tail ? Not he ! Nine days passed, ten days were ended, 


and on the eleventh Coney followed his tail to Squirrel's 
place. On his arrival there he found him on the ground. 
" You have come ! " said he as soon as he saw him. Then 
Squirrel jumped up into a tree, climbed up and laughed 
heartily, saying : " What have you come after, brother-in- 
law ? " Coney had not a word to say. So he asked him 
a second time. And Coney answered then, saying : ' As 
for me I am angry. You have simply deceived me. You 
did not bring back my tail." Thereupon Coney waxed very 
wroth. Squirrel laughed aloud and said : "As you are so 
angry, perhaps you will climb up into the tree and get 
your tail ! If you do not climb the tree you will never 
see your tail again." 

Then Coney thought within his chest : " How am I to 
stay among all the other animals ? They have all got tails : 
I am the only one lacking a tail." Thereupon he went to 
a hill, and to this day he lives among the rocks. 

ii. How Squirrel and Jackal became distinct 

Squirrel and Jackal were brothers-in-law ; they had 
married into one family. After a time Elephant said : 
" You, Squirrel and Jackal, come and work for me and I 
will give you a place in a chief's family, for you shall marry 
my daughters. At least he who is first to finish the work 
shall have the princeship." 

Then they answered : " It is well." And they asked : 
" What work are we to do ? " Elephant said : " I will show 
you. But first you must forsake your old wives." So 
they forsook them. 

Squirrel and Jackal went to Elephant. On their arrival 
he said : "As for you, Mr. Jackal, this is my daughter that 
I shall give you in marriage if you win. And, Mr. Squirrel, 
if you win, this is the one I shall give you." 

So they went to work in the forests : Jackal was given 
his forest and Squirrel his. Elephant said : " Fell the 
trees, and the first to finish shall marry my daughter." 
Then they began to fell the trees. Squirrel felled two 
trees while Jackal felled one ; then Squirrel had three to 
Jackal's two. 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 359 

When ten days had passed Squirrel had done his work, 
but Jackal's was too much for him. So they returned to 
Elephant ; but all the time he had not been telling the 
truth but was simply lying. 

Squirrel was given good fortune and told : " Nothing 
shall ever trouble you, you shall dwell up in a tree always, 
you shall live well all the years." Jackal was told : "As 
for you, you shall have but little joy in life. When you are 
going along the road in the vicinity of men, you will be 
caught in a trap, and men will trouble you as long as you 
live ; they will spear you, and kill you, and eat you, and 
wear your skin." 

Note. — The Ba-ila see some relationship or likeness between the 
squirrel and the jackal, seemingly because of the bushy tail each 
possesses ; and this tale is meant to explain how they have become 
separated, so that the squirrel lives in trees practically immune 
from annoyance from men, while the poor jackal living on the ground 
is every one's chase. 

12. How Skunk came to be a Helper of Men 

Hare and Skunk went a-hunting. On the road Hare 
proposed a game of hide-and-seek, saying : " Skunk, hide 
yourself and I will hide myself ; let us see how you can hide." 
Thereupon they hid themselves. After a time Hare got up 
and went outside to where Skunk was lying and deceived 
him by growling like a lion. Then Skunk cried out in fear, 
and Hare laughed and said : ' What are you crying for ? 
As for me I thought that perhaps you were brave, but now 
that you cry on being deceived, let us take a walk." So 
they went. On arriving yonder, Hare transformed himself, 
making himself like a leopard. Then Skunk shouted in alarm : 
' Mr. Hare ! ' He did not recognise Hare. He called again : 
' Mr. Hare ! ' Hare did not answer. At last Hare dis- 
covered himself and said : " What's the matter ? Yonder 
where you began to shout did I hear you ? Nevertheless, 
when you called me I answered. But as for you, you are 
a coward, you are like a hyena, you are like a chased cur, you 
poor infant ! ' Then Skunk said : ' No, sir, I was afraid 
because I met a leopard, and I was alarmed because it was 
about to bite me." Then Hare was angry and said : ' What 


was the matter with you that you could not hide ? " Skunk 
said : " I don't know how." So Hare said : " You're Skunk. 
Your name is Mr. Turn-and-twist-about. I give you good 
fortune and you shall convey good fortune to men. And 
you will help them with some of your flesh and also with 
your body." And so to-day Skunk is helpful to them. 

Note. — The name Salama-salama given to the Skunk indicates 
its manner of running, jumping from side to side, turning and 
twisting about, so that it is very difficult to catch or hit. From 
its being a difficult target to its enemies, the Ba-ila conceive it to 
be a valuable medicine in time of war. Some take its nose, others 
some of its hair, and put them in the insengo, medicine receptacles 
worn on the body. These are charms to ensure that the spears of 
the enemy will fail to reach the wearer : that, indeed, he will be as 
hard to hit as the Skunk. It is to this that the Hare refers when he 
says that some of the Skunk's flesh will be useful to men. He 
also refers to the fact that the Skunk's urine is used to perfume 

13. Why Duiker has a fine Coat and parti-coloured Tail 

Duiker was the younger brother of Oribi, but one de- 
ceived the other. When Duiker looked at Oribi he found 
that Oribi was very handsome, that his body was white and 
his tail parti-coloured. After some days, Duiker went to 
pay a visit at Oribi's home. 

On his arrival, Oribi said : " Good day, my brother ! ' 
He replied : " Good day ! " " What have you come to 
look for ? " asked Oribi. " Nothing," said Duiker, " I 
have only come to see you. I said, the days are many since 
I saw my brother, so I will go to see him." Thereupon 
Oribi was glad. He took a cup of water and made an obla- 
tion, and after making the oblation he gave him a tuft on 
the head, saying : " This is my offering to you." Then 
he cooked food for him and Duiker ate. But in his heart 
Duiker was envying the body of Oribi and his parti-coloured 
tail. Then having finished eating, Duiker returned home and 
Oribi stayed behind. While he was on the road, Duiker 
thought : " How can I deceive him and take away yon 
body of his ? " Then he thought : " Let me brew some 
beer, and when I have brewed the beer I will call him to 
come and drink." 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 361 

On arriving home, Duiker despatched his wives, saying : 
' Brew some beer that I may entrap Oribi with it. Is my 
body handsome ? " The women said : " No, it is very 
ugly. You are not fit to bear the name of Duiker because 
your body is so very ugly ; you are red and your tail is 
dark. You ought to seize Oribi's body, which is white, 
and also his parti-coloured tail." 

Then the wives brewed the beer, and when it was ready 
they sent the invitation : " Let Oribi and his wives come 
and drink beer." Then they arrived, and on arrival began 
to drink beer. At night when they spoke of returning, 
Duiker said : ' No, stay here and sleep, so that to-morrow 
morning you can drink again." 

Thereupon he gave them a house and they slept. Then 
Duiker said to his wives : ' My dears, when they are asleep 
to-night and undressed, take away their coats and parti- 
coloured tails." So indeed they slept, and while they were 
asleep at night, Duiker and his wives arose and took away 
the skins of the Oribi and his wives : the man robbed his 
fellow-man and the women their fellows ; then they left 
their home and went to hide. 

As soon as it dawned, the Oribis found their white coats 
and their parti-coloured tails — they found them missing ; they 
found only those which had belonged to the Duikers. They 
dressed in them and tried to find where the others had 
gone but did not succeed. So after a time the Oribis got 
very sad and said : ' Now as our white coats have gone, 
we must go into the open plain and live there. When the 
veldfire has swept over the plain we shall become Dwellers- 
in-the-open." Thereupon they dressed in the coats which 
had been the Duikers' and went off to become Dwellers-in- 
the-open. Even to-day that is their name. 

14. How Elephant lost his Clothing 

Hare went to Elephant, and on his arrival said : " Uncle, 
let us go to the river." Elephant said : " What are we to 
do ? ' Hare answered : " Only to play. When we get 
there let us dive into the water and sit at the bottom of 
the river. Only I, as I am a child, I will look outside. Let 


us stay a long time, and then in the late afternoon we will 
return." Thereupon Elephant said : " All right." 

They dived into the river and went to sit under the water. 
They took off their clothes before going in and left them 
outside. After a time Hare said : " Uncle, I am going ; 
you stay and I will find you here. I am going to see the 
time outside : how far the sun has got. You must not rise 
to the surface; simply sit still." Then Hare emerged ; on 
his arrival he took Elephant's clothing and carried it to the 
village. As soon as he reached the village he said : ' Cook 
these clothes of Elephant's." 

Afterwards he went back. He dived and found Elephant 
sitting where he left him. Said he : " It may be, my uncle, 
that you have been to the surface ? " He answered : ' No, 
since you left me I have simply been sitting." Hare 
answered : " It is well, uncle ; let us stay on, the sun is still 
big. ' ' They stayed. After a time, Hare said : " I am going to 
see the sun." When he got out, Hare ran off to the village 
and said : " Cook some bread, we shall be back presently." 
When the sun reached the point where the shepherds are 
tired, Hare returned, dived, and found Elephant sitting 
in the same place. As he arrived, Elephant said : " How 
far has the sun got ? " " Uncle," he said, "it is when the 
shepherds are tired ; there is still a brief period and we 
shall go back." So they stayed on. 

After a time, little Hare on another excursion found 
that the sun was weak, so he returned and told Elephant, 
saying : " Uncle, let us go now, the sun is setting." Then 
they came to the surface and emerged on to the bank. 
Little Hare put on his clothes. Elephant looked for his 
clothes but could not find them, so he asked : " Who has 
taken away my clothes ? " Then Hare answered : "I 
don't know, uncle. I haven't seen them myself ; when 
I came out on to the bank to have a look at the sun, I 
simply rose up for a moment and went back again." When 
Elephant heard Hare's words he was very sad and astonished, 
but although he searched a long time he did not find his 
clothes. Afterwards Hare said : " Uncle, we will come to 
look for them carefully, let us now go and eat at my 



So they went off and arrived. Then Hare took one pot 
off the fire and dished up all the contents into a basin, 
brought as much bread as would suffice him, and gave it 
all to Elephant. As soon as he had finished eating, Hare 
asked him : " Have you finished eating, uncle ? " Said 
he : ' Yes." " Well, it is you who were looking for your 
clothes, and it is these which you have eaten. You are 
really a fool. You eat your clothes without knowing it." 
Upon that Elephant was very sad. To this day Elephant's 
clothes are not to be seen outside ; as he ate them long 
ago, they are not seen outside, but are within. 

Note. — This tale cannot be understood without knowing that 
" clothes " is a euphemism for testicles ; the tale is designed to 
explain why it is that those parts of the elephant are not visible. 

In Bantu tales the elephant is very commonly the butt of the 
Hare's witticisms. We shall meet the two again later on. There 
is a Baganda tale (Sir H. H. Johnston, The Uganda Protectorate, pp. 
711-13), in which the Hare says to the Elephant : "Mr. Elephant, 
I can't say I admire your dancing, there seems to be too much of 
you and the flesh on your buttocks goes flop, flop, flop. Let us cut 
off a few slices and then try. You will then dance as well as I do." 
The rest of the tale is occupied with the elephant's endeavours to 
regain his steaks. See also the Banyoro tale {ibid. pp. 604-5). 

15. Why the Elephant is distinct from the Wart-hog 

Wart-hog was Elephant's nephew. Once upon a time 
they went to the water. On their arrival, Elephant said : 
"Who is to drink first?" Wart-hog: "I will." So 
Wart-hog went into the water. When he had finished drink- 
ing — Elephant all the while standing on the bank — he 
stirred up the water, and having done this, he said : ' Now, 
uncle, come and drink." Elephant drank and drank. 

When he had done drinking a leech bit him in the trunk. 
When he felt this, he said : " Take out this thing that is 
biting me." But the leech wouldn't come out. Then he 
began to hit his trunk on a tree ; but the leech wouldn't 
leave go. He went on bashing it, but the leech stuck on. 
Then his trunk began to bleed, and Elephant continued 
bashing it. By and by the trunk broke, but the leech 
wouldn't leave go. Then Elephant was amazed and said : 
' This insect won't come out of my trunk." Afterwards the 


trunk got rotten, but Elephant never ceased bashing it. 
After many days, Elephant died. 

Wart-hog said : " My uncle is dead. Now as my uncle is 
dead I become the great one." Then he marvelled, saying : 
" Was it I who spoilt the water when I was the first to 
drink ? It was a leech that bit him, was it not ? " There- 
upon they became distinct. Elephant took the big tusks ; 
Wart-hog took tusks like those of Elephant. Elephant went 
on growing, and Wart-hog diminishing. As for being alike, 
they are alike ; body and hair, Wart-hog and Elephant are 
the same. If you look at the tusks, both Wart-hog's and 
Elephant's are white. And the hair is alike and the body 

Note. — We do not know that it would occur to many people 
to trace these resemblances between the two animals, but they 
have struck the Ba-ila and this tale is meant to account for them. 
That a leech should cause the death of an elephant is no mere fancy, 
as will be seen from the following : ' This same ponderous elephant 
positively trembles at the thought of a tiny leech. And no wonder, 
for many an elephant dies an awful death, from a leech sucking the 
inner membrane of his trunk until the monster tusker is maddened 
to death. . . . You can come across a huge clearing in the grass 
where the writhing giant has nearly beaten his own brains out, 
the agony being all centred in that finest and most delicate of all 
his organs, the marconigram trunk. . . . On Lake Mweru this is 
called the ' leech-doom,' and is the cause of that curious ceremony 
all elephants perform when they come across drinking water. This 
function is called the benediction (kupara) and the elephant passes 
a scared, wistful gaze over the sheet of water, at the same time 
waving his trunk like a mesmerist again and again over the solemn 
treacherous pond. But the trunk, as a matter of fact, is no mere 
magician's wand, but the supreme headquarters of Jumbo's cunning, 
and supplying him with not so much a sixth sense as a sensorium 
commune. Instead of ' praying ' a sort of grace-before-meat peti- 
tion, as the native suggests, he is really wringing from the water 
its leech-secret." — D. Crawford, Christian Express, 1. 3. 10. 

16. Why the Wart-hog lives in a Burrow 

Once again there was deception between Wart-hog and 
Elephant. Elephant came to Wart-hog and on his arrival 
said : " Uncle, do you still keep up resentment against 
me ? " Wart-hog answered : " Yes, because one day you 
said you would destroy things for me, but you broke your 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 365 

word, and so now we have no more to do with each other." 
Said Elephant : " No, uncle, you must not be resentful." 
Wart-hog said : " I don't want to fight again." Elephant 
said : " No, I will not fight again. I only came to admire 
your tusks." Thereupon Wart-hog said : " Here they are, 
you may admire them." And Elephant also said : " Here 
are mine, you may admire them." So they dressed up, 
Wart-hog wearing Elephant's tusks and Elephant Wart-hog's. 
After they had done this, Elephant said : " These 
tusks, uncle, I am going to take home and I will bring them 
back the day after to-morrow." But he was simply de- 
ceiving him. So Elephant went off. On the way he said : 
" I have cheated him — the fool. He whose name is 
Mufwafwi (' stumpy ') should he have great tusks, and 
I the great one wear small tusks ! He shan't see these 
again ! ' Thereupon, mumbling much against him, he 
entered the matondo forest and went off a long way. 

Wart-hog looked for the day of which Elephant spoke 
when he said good-bye, saying, I will bring back your tusks, 
but he did not see him. So he followed him, and when he 
came upon him said : " I want my tusks." Elephant said : 

' Really ! Why, you fool, I said, we make an exchange, 
and now you are still talking about your tusks ! " Then 
Wart-hog said : " You are lying. You said nothing about 
making an exchange ; all you said was, let me walk with 
them and I will bring them back. Now to-day you have 
turned round." He said : " No." And Wart-hog said : 

' From to-day I am going to sleep in a burrow ; as for you, 
you shall travel about the whole day and go far ; we shall 
not be friends again because you have deceived me so." 

Thereupon Wart-hog returned ; he considered the matter 
and his considerations told him : " Go to Ant-bear. See 
that body of yours, in your bare condition you ought not 
to sleep simply on the ground, you ought to be in a burrow." 
So Wart-hog went to Ant-bear. On his arrival, he said : 
"Ant-bear, look after me well and I will give you a blessing." 
Said he : ' What sort of a blessing ? " He answered : 

' You shall not have to eat as your fellow-animals eat ; 
but I will give you a blessing ; of grass you shall eat but 
little, only to taste ; when you are sleeping then on to your 


tongue shall come your food, which you will find while 
lying down." 

To this day Ant-bear only eats little grass, but when he 
puts out his tongue insects collect upon it, and all he has 
to do is simply to draw in his tongue and eat. Ant-bear's 
custom is to dig burrows, and Wart-hog enters one and 
sleeps ; when he has had enough of one he looks out for 
another. On his arrival he enters the burrow dug by Ant- 
bear. To this day it is so. 

17. Why Bushbuck came to have a Red Coat 

One day Hare said : " Bushbuck, let us go and pay 
some calls." Bushbuck said : " It is well." They went 
off, and arriving at a village they stayed there and their 
hosts gave them something to eat. After a time Hare 
said : " Bushbuck." Bushbuck replied : " Yes ! " "Let 
us go and steal a goat." They went off to another village, 
and on arrival there found some goats. They stole one, 
took it to their host's place and killed it. Having killed it, 
Hare said : " Bushbuck, bring a basin to put the blood in." 
So Bushbuck brought a basin and they put the blood into 
it. When the basin was full, Hare placed it up on a shelf. 
Then they cooked their meat and, having cooked, ate it. 
And when they had done eating they went to sleep. 

In the night Hare got up and aroused Bushbuck, saying : 
" Bushbuck ! " Bushbuck replied : " Speak ! " Said he : 
" Let us go and make burrows, so that if the owners of the 
goat we stole should chase us we can enter the burrows." 
So they went, arrived, and dug the burrows, Hare digging 
his and Bushbuck his. They also pierced escape-holes by 
which they might emerge, saying : " Let us do this : as 
soon as we enter those people will say, ' They are inside ' ; 
whereas we are out at the escape-holes." So they worked 
and that same night they finished. When they had finished, 
Hare brought a big stone and threw it into Bushbuck's 
burrow, so that Bushbuck, having once entered, should not 
be able to get out and they would catch him. 

So when their work was done, they returned to their 
host's place. Before very long the day dawned and the 



owners missed their goat. Then Hare arose, took down 
the basin of blood and poured it all over Bushbuck's body. 
Then the owners of the goat arrived, and on their arrival 
said : " Who has stolen our goat ? ' Hare answered : 
" Look at our claws and bodies and you will see who has 
blood on him, and that is he who ate your goat which you 
have missed." . So they said : " Bushbuck, you are the one 
who has eaten our goat. See the blood on all your body ! ' 

Upon that Bushbuck and Hare ran off and went to 
tKeir burrows. On their arrival Bushbuck entered, but 
upon entering he encountered the stone and the way was 
blocked. All he could do was to crouch down and hide. 
As for Master Hare, he went out at his escape-hole. So 
the owners of the goat said : " Bring hoes and let us dig." 
When they brought the hoes, some dug at Bushbuck's burrow, 
others at Hare's. Those who dug at Bushbuck's caught 
him ; but when the digging was finished at Hare's — to see 
him, No ! 

When they caught hold of Bushbuck, he said : "As 
you have caught me, do not kill me on the stone. Take me 
to a clear space and kill me there, for it is there only I shall 
die." So they took him into the flat. On arrival there, 
he said : " Throw me up into the air. When I return to 
earth, I shall simply be dead." So they threw him up into 
the air. When they threw him, he at once ran off and 
went away into the bush. The colour which he has is from 
the blood of the goat which he and Hare stole. Only when 
he got that colour from the blood which Hare spilt on him 
did his name become Shichibangu, and since then he has 
lived only in the bush. You will not find him in the flat ; 
only in the bush now. 

Note. — It is a favourite trick of the Hare to throw blame on to 
his partners by smearing them with blood or with mud or something 
else. In the Suto tale he smears mud on the Rabbit so that the 
lion may think it is he who drank his water in the night. (Jacottet, 
Basuto Lore, Part 2, p. 10). Mr. Jacottet gives references to similar 
tricks played by the Hare in Subiya and Ronga tales. In a Lala 
tale (Madan : Lala-Lamba Handbook, pp. 55-8) the Rabbit (kalalu) 
plays the same trick on the March Hare {Wachilulu ishilu) ; he 
kills a goat and puts the entrails on the neck of the Hare. Then 
the people of the village find the Hare ; he escapes and gets into a 
hole, whence he is dug out and killed. 


18. Why Jackals do not go in Herds 

Jackal and Weasel dwelt in a village together and Jackal 
married Weasel's daughter. One day Weasel went after 
honey. On his return home he brewed some beer, and 
when it was fermented he sent a message to Jackal, saying : 
" Let my son-in-law come and drink honey-beer." There- 
upon he went with his children and women. On his arrival 
they gave him and his children and wives some honey- 
beer and they all drank. They drank all day, when it got 
dark they drank all night ; when it dawned they drank till 
noon, and when the sun began to show that it was about 
one o'clock, Jackal and his children were very drunk. He, 
when he set about emerging, ran like a madman ; he went 
off into the forest. Another came out and ran ; and an- 
other came out and ran also. They ran like that because 
they were drunk. They all ran off in different directions. 
In running, one went his way and another his. To-day 
Jackals do not go in a herd. If there are three together it 
means that one is a child ; they generally go two by two, 
he and his wife ; because of the way in which they were 
drunk long ago with honey-beer and separated in running 
away. To this day they do not go in herds, and if you see 
four together you may know that some are children ; as 
soon as they are grown they separate from the others. 

w iwl r\rtl * K I9 ' Why Zebm has no Horns 

All the animals were gathered together : Elephant and 
Wart-hog and Gnu and Zebra and Eland and Buffalo and 
Sable and Duiker and Reedbuck and Puku and Waterbuck 
and Roan and Lechwe and Oribi and Kudu — all the animals 
of different species were gathered together grazing. 

After a while, the time came for going to select horns 
for themselves. All the animals said : " Let us choose 
horns." So all the animals ran, all of different species ran 
off to select horns. And they were all suited, whatever the 
animal was, great or small, all of different species were 
suited with horns. 

Only Zebra remained behind. 



After a time they said : " Zebra, they will make it 
impossible for you to select horns for yourself." As soon 
as he thought of this he ran off ; on reaching the place where 
the horns were being selected, he was simply sad to find 
no horn left, the others had finished them all. All he found 
there were a mane and long ears and stripes and a big 
mouth. Then his friends laughed at him, saying : " You, 
what has your eating done for you ! See, they have finished 
the horns, even the little children have got horns, and you — 
only colourings and a mane and ears and a drooping lip, 
that was what you had to take. See us all with horns, big 
and little ! ' So his friends contemned him, sa3^ing : " You 
are a glutton, your eating has deprived you of horns." 

Thereupon Zebra was very sad indeed as he was without 
horns. And so it is that as for eating and eating very 
much, to this day Zebra is a glutton. It seems that he 
surpasses all the other animals in eating. That is all. 

20. Why Leopard and Cheetah became distinct 

Leopard became distinct from Cheetah. Leopard bit the 
ox of a chief and after biting it, smeared the ox's blood 
upon Cheetah. Next morning when the people examined 
their cattle they found one missing, and they said : " Call 
Cheetah and his brother Leopard, so that we can ask them 
about the killing of the chief's ox." 

On their arrival the people said : ' Leopard ! " He 
answered : " What's the matter, chief ? ' Said the chief : 
" One of the oxen is missing." Leopard said : 'As for 
me, chief, I haven't seen it." And Cheetah said : "I also, 
chief, I haven't seen it." Presently Leopard answered 
again, saying : " Such being the case, you will find that 
whoever has blood on the mouth and hands is the one who 
saw your ox." Thereupon the chief looked at the mouth 
and hands of Leopard. As soon as he turned his eye upon 
Cheetah he saw the blood on his mouth and hands. So he 
sent that same brother of his, Leopard, to seize him, and 
he said : " Now, you, Leopard, shall be fierce towards men 
and animals. And you, Cheetah, you shall bite calves, 
so that the owners of the cattle shall kill you." 

vol. 11 2 B 


Now to this day, when Cheetah finds- a calf he bites it. 
At the same time Leopard also still bites calves and men 
too. They did not become altogether distinct. Since they 
did not become distinct in their colourings, Leopard and 
Cheetah, if you say : " Run away, Cheetah," it will be a 
Leopard that runs. If you say : " Run away, Leopard," 
it is Cheetah that runs. Because they are similar in their 

Note. — The Cheetah or Chitah, or hunting leopard, has great 
resemblance to the leopard as regards the skin, but is not nearly 
so fierce an animal. This tale is supposed to account for the differ- 
ences and likenesses. 

21. Tortoise, because of the way she and Fish-eagle deceived 
each other, does not eat Meat 

Tortoise and Fish-eagle made a covenant of friendship. 
Fish-eagle bore children but Tortoise had no children, and 
for that reason Fish-eagle laughed very much. One day, 
Fish-eagle said : " Oh, my friend, give me cunning ! ' 
" What sort of cunning ? " Fish-eagle replied : " Cunning 
by which to withdraw one's head within, so that I also may 
not get into trouble. See my children, I leave them alone, 
and if a biting thing comes along to where I have left them, 
it will bite them, and all because they haven't cunning. 
And I have no cunning myself. That is why I ask you, and 
if you will give me that cunning I also will give you cunning." 

Tortoise answered saying : " What sort of cunning ? " 

Said she : " Why, to fly in the air ! You cannot fly 
now, no, you can't fly, all you can do is to crawl along 
the ground on your stomach, but, on the other hand, I 
fly. As for you, the only cunning you possess is to with- 
draw your head inside, that only you have ; so now let us 
exchange, you give me your wisdom of withdrawing the 
head within when I see a thing which kills ; and if you do 
that for me, I also will show you the cunning of flying." 

Nevertheless Tortoise refused, and when she refused Fish- 
eagle stole Tortoise's axe, saying : ' Let us see whether she 
will fly to fetch her axe." 

Thereupon Fish-eagle took away Tortoise's axe. Tor- 



toise sought for it carefully, and then she thought : " It is 
that friend of mine who has taken away my axe." After 
a time Tortoise considered the matter again in her chest, 
and said : " Let me kill an animal, and when I have killed 
the animal let me hide in the meat of its stomach, and 
Fish-eagle will be sure to come to the meat. As she has 
children, she will first, on her arrival at the meat, take off 
the stomach to carry it to her children, and then I shall 
find my axe." 

Now thereupon Tortoise hid herself in the stomach of 
the meat and Fish-eagle came whirling round in the air ; 
as she looked down to earth she saw the meat red below, 
and said : "I have found meat." So she descended upon 
the meat, and on arrival took off the stomach in which 
Tortoise had hidden herself ; she took it to her children at 
the village on the tree-top. 

When she came to her children she said : " Catch the 
meat, I am going back to where I found it to eat." So Fish- 
eagle returned to the meat. Her children set about eating 
the meat which their mother had brought. Just as they 
were about to eat they heard a hiss, and all the children 
were afraid. Then Tortoise came out of the meat and 
looked about for her axe ; looking about she found it, took 
it, and descended and returned to her village. 

Then Fish-eagle returned to her village, and on reaching 
it found her children absent and called out : "- My children, 
where have you gone ? " They answered : " We were 
afraid, in that meat which you brought us there was some- 
thing that hissed, that is why we ran away afraid ; and 
we haven't eaten the meat." Then she was greatly 
astounded and said : " Tortoise came here. Who is it gave 
her cunning to get up here so high ? She has no wings." 
She asked again : " Where is my axe ? " The children 
said : " We haven't seen it." 

Then she returned to Tortoise. On arriving she sat 
down and found that Tortoise had killed another animal, 
a Python. So on her arrival she said : ' My friend, to-day 
we find peace ; I will not deceive you again. I will do this 
to you ; when you bite an animal I will come to be given 
of it by you, I will not again do you wrong." 


To-day, yes, to-day, where Tortoise has meat, whether it 
is a Snake he kills, or whether it is a breast of meat he finds, 
the Fish-eagle also passes there, and on arrival Fish-eagle sits 
on top. Tortoise simply hisses, because he does not eat meat. 
Since the one deceived the other, Tortoise does not eat it : 
all he eats is rushes, it is Fish-eagle that eats meat. 

22. Why Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus became distinct 

Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus had a fight. Hippo had 
taken Rhino's razor : that is why they fought. Rhino 
said : " Who has taken my razor ? " Hippo answered : 
" I did. I wanted to shave my wife." Rhino said : 
" Bring it here." Hippo said : " I haven't seen it." 
Thereupon they fought. Afterwards Rhino said : " Let us 
separate. As for me I am going off to eat Euphorbia." 
And Hippo said : " And I to the water." 

And so the saying to-day still is : Let us separate as 
did Rhino and Hippo. 

Rhino and Hippo also once effected an exchange. Rhino 
had the tusks that Hippo has, and Hippo had Rhino's horns. 
It thus came about that they deceived each other a second 
time. First they fought about a razor and separated. 
Although that was the case, Hippo stole Rhino's tusks. 
He had said : " How can I deceive him and take his white 
tusks, and give him these black horns, which are not firm." 
So Hippo determined to invite him, saying : " Let Rhino 
come, and let us make peace, that the old quarrel may 
cease and we may love each other and dwell harmoniously, 
just as we used always to do." 

So Rhino came ; when Hippo saw him coming he 
found how very white his tusks were. So on Rhino's 
arrival, Hippo said : " Brother, let us not fight again, let 
us now love each other very much and settle down 

It got dark, and as soon as it was night Hippo said : 
" Let us take off our horns and put them aside, we will 
wear them again in the morning." So they undressed 
and as it was night went to sleep. Hippo rose in the night 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 373 

and stole Rhino's white tusks and put down in their place 
his own black horns. Then Hippo went into the water. 

Next morning when Rhino wished to put on the tusks 
they did not fit, and he said : ' These are not my tusks." 
When he looked where Hippo had been lying he found him 
gone, — and gone off with the tusks he had stolen. So he 
went off to the Matondo forest, but the tusks he did not 
see again. 

Then he shouted : " Hippo, you who have stolen my 
tusks, we are alike in body and in the thickness of our hide ; 
your hide shall be red and mine black because of your 
thievery. You shall lodge in the water and it is at dusk 
that you shall come out to graze ; as for me I shall graze 
the whole day. Neither of us shall ever be able to jump 
over a tree ! Because we are alike ; both of us have short 
legs and neither of us is greater than his fellow." 

So, as it happened thus, they are alike in having short 
legs, but they are unlike in body ; that of the Hippo is 
red and that of Rhino is black. Still, they are of one 

23. Why the Cracks in Tortoise's Shell 

Mr. Tortoise, who was married to Mrs. Tortoise, had in 
Vulture a friend who was assiduous in visiting him. But, 
having no wings, Tortoise was unable to return the visits, 
and this displeased him. One day he bethought himself of 
his cunning and said to his wife : " Wife ! ' Mrs. Tortoise 
answered : " Hallo, husband, what is it ? ' Said he : 
' Don't you see, wife, that we are becoming despicable in 
Vulture's eyes ? ' " How despicable ? " " Despicable, 
because it is despicable for me not to visit Vulture. He is 
always coming here, and I have never yet been to his house 
— and he my friend." Mrs. Tortoise replied: "I don't 
see how Vulture should think us despicable unless we could 
fly as he does and yet did not pay him a visit." But Mr. 
Tortoise persisted : " Nevertheless, wife, it is despicable." 
Said his wife : " Very well, then, sprout some wings and 
fly and visit your friend Vulture." Mr Tortoise answered : 
" No, I shan't sprout any wings because I was not born 


that way." " Well," said Mrs. Tortoise, " what will you 
do ? " "I shall find a way," replied he. " Find it then," 
said Mrs Tortoise, " and let us see what you will do." 

Later Tortoise said to his wife : " Come and tie me up 
in a parcel with a lump of tobacco, and when Vulture arrives 
give it to him and say it is tobacco, to buy grain for us." 
So Mrs. Tortoise took some palm leaf and made him into 
a parcel and put him down in the corner. At his usual 
time Vulture came to pay his visit, and said : " Where's 
your husband gone, Mrs. Tortoise ? " " My husband is 
gone some distance to visit some people, and he left hunger 
here ; we have not a bit of grain in the house." Vulture 
said : " You are in trouble indeed, not having any grain." 
Mrs. Tortoise replied : " We are in such trouble as human 
beings never knew." And she went on : " Vulture, at 
your place is there no grain to be bought ? " " Yes," 
said he, " any amount, Mrs. Tortoise." She brought the 
bundle and said : " My husband left this lump of tobacco 
thinking you would buy some grain with it for us and bring 
it here." Vulture took it willingly and returned to his 
home in the heights. As he was nearing his native town he 
was surprised to hear a voice saying : " Untie me, I am your 
friend Tortoise. I said I would pay a visit to you." But 
Vulture in his surprise let go his hold of the bundle and 
down crashed Tortoise — pididi-pididi ! He smashed up 
when he struck the earth and died. And so the friendship 
between Tortoise and Vulture was broken : and you can 
still see the cracks in Tortoise's shell. 

24. Why Hornbill has such a Big Beak and Tomtit a 

Small One 

Tomtit in the old days had a very large beak, and 
Hornbill, dying with envy for the beak, planned to rob 
him of it. One morning all the birds went out into the 
fields to seek for food, and Hornbill was there too, only 
he kept away from the crowd, as he was ashamed of being 
seen with such a tiny beak among birds who all had beaks 
so well-fitting. After a time Hornbill said to Tomtit : 
" Tomtit, bring your beak and let me try it on." So they 



exchanged — Hornbill taking Tomtit's big beak and Tom- 
tit taking Hornbill's tiny one. When the birds saw Hornbill 
they admired, him and said : " Hornbill, that beak suits 
you fine ! " Hornbill was very pleased and began crying : 
" It suits me fine ! It suits me fine ! It suits me fine, the 
great beak ! " * Then Tomtit said to Hornbill : " Give me 
back my beak." He replied : " No, I will never give it 
back as it suits me so well." Then Tomtit began to cry : 
" Katiti, katiti, tiny, oh so tiny " — crying in that way and 
complaining about his tiny beak. Hornbill went on wear- 
ing the big beak and crying : "It suits me fine ! It suits 
me fine ! ' And that is still his cry. But Tomtit still goes 
complaining : " Katiti ! Katiti ! Tiny, oh so tiny ! " And 
people hearing his cry named him Ntite, i.e. Tiny. 

Part II 
The Adventures of Sulwe, the Hare 

1. Why Hare had his Destiny foretold by Tortoise 

Hare went to borrow an axe from Tortoise with the 
intention of felling trees in the forest. Tortoise handed 
him the axe and Hare went off to fell the trees. But when 
he returned from the forest he did not restore the axe to 
Tortoise but kept it at his own place. Then Tortoise said : 
" Hare, give me my axe." Said Hare : " I will not give it 
you." So Tortoise returned home and called his wife : 
" My wife ! " Said she : " What's the matter ? " Said 
he : ' Cut me up into pieces and cook me in a big pot ; 
then when I am cooked boil some porridge also ; when you 
have finished boiling the porridge load yourself with it all 
and take it into the forest where Hare is felling trees. On 
your arrival there put it on the ground where Hare will 
pass, and come back here." 

Thereupon the wife of Tortoise cut him up into pieces 
and cooked him in a big pot, and she cooked also some 
porridge. When she had finished cooking she loaded her- 
self and took it into the forest where Hare was felling 
trees and put it down in Hare's tracks. As Hare was 

1 This fits well with the tune, so to speak, of the Hornbill's cry. 


returning from felling trees he found the porridge in his 
tracks where Mrs. Tortoise had put it and also the potful 
of meat. When he arrived and found this porridge and the 
potful of meat Hare was astounded, as it was in the midst 
of the forest ; he stood and gazed and then he began to 
shout : " Who are you that has left the porridge and the 
potful of meat ? ' There was no answer ; he called and 
called, but there was not a voice in reply. Then he thought : 
It is my wife who has brought it for me." 

So he began to eat the porridge and the potful of meat. 
When he had finished eating he took up his trees and went 
to his village. When he arrived at the village and was 
about to throw down the trees he heard a voice speaking : 
" Hare, give me my axe ! " Hare was amazed and said : 
' As I am the son of a stranger, these trees astonish me ! ' 
He cut the trees up into pieces and threw them away. 
When he was about to sit on his stool, he heard the voice 
saying : " Hare, give me my axe ! " Hare said : " As I 
am Hare, this stool astonishes me !." He took the stool 
and burnt it in the fire. Afterwards he thought of going to 
bed, and again he heard the voice saying : " Hare, give 
me my axe ! " He got up from the bed and burnt it, say- 
ing : "I am astonished ! " When he went outside he heard 
the voice saying : " Hare, my axe ! " And in the house 
he heard the voice saying : " Hare, give me my axe ! ' 
Then he took fire, did Hare, and burnt the house. Said he : 
" As I am Hare, the house speaks ! " 

Then Tortoise was amazed and said to himself : " Hare 
is a person of much cunning." Said Tortoise : ' As you 
would not listen to my pleading, from to-day I put your 
destiny upon you ; you shall not cease to deceive all the 
animals, you shall be a wise man. And in the end when you 
die you shall not have your skin stripped from you, you 
shall be like me in not being skinned ; just as I am not 
skinned, you shall always have a tissue skin ; I, He-who- 
ref uses-to-be-surrounded, I say so." 

He is not skinned in these days just as Tortoise is not 

Note. — The voice haunting Hare seems like conscience ; really, 
of course, it was Tortoise speaking from within Hare's stomach. 



2. Hare makes Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros engage in a 


Now Hare set out upon an errand of mischief ; he went 
first to Rhinoceros and said : " These people have sworn 
to do so-and-so." Then he ran off to Hippopotamus, and 
when he arrived called : " You there ! ' Hippopotamus 
answered : " Hallo ! ' Said he : " Take hold of this rope 
and let us pull against each other." Then he ran off to 
Rhinoceros, and on arrival said : ' Take hold of this rope 
and let us pull each other." Then Hare said : "I am 
going to return to the bank yonder." 

So they began to pull each other, and Rhinoceros was 
so pulled that he came to put his foot in the water. Said he : 
' Stu-pendous ! " Then he in turn went back with a rush 
and Hippopotamus was pulled out upon the bank, and 
he also ejaculated : " Stu-pendous ! ' Hippopotamus called 
out : " Hare ! Hare ! " Rhinoceros went on pulling and 
Hippopotamus went on pulling also. After a time Rhino- 
ceros was exhausted and said : "I will go and see that 
man who is pulling me." And just then Hippopotamus 
put his head up out of the water and said : " Who is that 
pulling me ? " Said the other : " Why ! Shinakambeza, it's 
you pulling me ! ' And Chipembele (the Rhino) answered : 
"It is I." " Why, who was it that tied you up, 
Chipembele ? " Then Rhinoceros answered : ' It was 
Hare. Was it he who tied you up also, Hippopotamus ? ' 
Said he : " Yes, it was he." 

Now that is where the wisdom comes from, in that 
Rhinoceros comes to the water to drink although they had 
been at enmity, these two. Rhinoceros had said : "I will 
not tread in the river." Thus they became reconciled, and 
that is why Rhinoceros drinks water to-day. Rhinoceros 
and Hippopotamus, when they do not see each other in 
the flesh, Rhinoceros will drink water in the river where 
Hippo lives, and Hippopotamus comes out to go grazing 
where Rhinoceros has his home. 

Note. — This is a well-known exploit of the artful Hare. The 
Babemba tell how he played the same trick upon the Elephant and 
Hippopotamus (Journal of the African Society, vol. hi. p. 68). Indeed 


it seems that these two animals are the usual figures in the story. 
See the same story from Calabar in J.A.S. vol. iv. p. 307. A Duala 
story almost identical with the latter is given by Herr Lederbogen 
in the Transactions of the Berlin Oriental Seminary. A Temne 
version is given by Miss Cronie in Cunnie Rabbit (reviewed in J.A.S. 
vol. iv. p. 251). In this it is the spider who challenges the Elephant 
and Hippopotamus. Mr. Monteil (see review of his Contes Soudanais 
in J.A.S. vol. vi. p. 65) also gives a version in which the Elephant 
takes the place of the Rhino. All the other versions treat the matter 
as a mere trial of strength, but the Mandinga begin by saying the 
Hare owed a slave apiece to the Elephant and Hippo ; he then 
got each to pull against the other on the plea that his captive was 
attached to the other end. It is the story of " Mr. Tarry pin shows 
his Strength" in Uncle Remus, where one end of Mrs. Meadow's 
bed-cord is given to Brer Bar. 

These animals, like others, have their titles, their " praise- 
names," which are repeated by people on occasion. Thus 
Hippopotamus rejoices in the appellations : " Shinakambeza, 
Muzundazunda, Ingoma ya Batwa, Chiyayoka." And the 
Rhinoceros is called : " Chinyama chidya mulundongoma," i.e. 
" the great animal that eats the Euphorbia," and Chipembele. 

3. Hare deceives Lion and burns him to Death 

Hare called Lion, saying : " Uncle, stand over yonder, 
I am going into the ant-heap there." He went off into the 
ant-hill and then called out to Lion, saying : " Lion, make 
a fire there and surround the whole ant-hill with it, while I 
stay here." Lion made the fire ; the fire blazed up, and as 
soon as it came near him Hare got into a burrow. The 
whole ant-hill was on fire, while Master Hare had hidden 
himself in the burrow. When the fire on the ant-hill had 
burnt out, Master Hare came out of his retreat. He rolled 
about in the black ash of the grass, and went to show him- 
self to Lion, saying : " Don't you see me, comrade, how 
that I am not burnt ? Don't you see this ash on me ? ' Lion 
said : " You will give me some of that medicine, so that I 
may do the same." 

So he plucked him some leaves and gave them to him. 
Then he looked for a large ant-heap with plenty of grass 
upon it, and Lion went to lie down in the midst of it. Then 
Hare surrounded the ant-hill on all sides with fire ; when 
the fire came near to Lion he called out in alarm. Hare 
answered him by saying : " You mustn't cry out because 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 379 

of this fire, or you will be burnt." Then the fire got close 
and Lion began to -burn at his beard. Then the fire reached 
his body and his hair began to burn. Then he got all afire 
and died. When he had so perished, Master Hare ran off, 
saying : "I have played a trick upon my elder." And he 
went off to five elsewhere. 

Note. — This tale reminds one of the tale in Uncle Remus about 
the Hare and the Wolf. The Hare allured the Wolf to enter a hollow 
tree to get the honey by telling him that fire would cause the honey 
to " oozle out," — " en mor'n dat, atter you git de honey all over you, 
'taint no use ter try ter burn you up, kaze de honey will puzzuv 
you." Of course the Wolf is burnt. The Hare had first led the 
Wolf to believe that he himself had escaped easily from the same. 
A tale, the motive of which is the same as this, is told by the 
Balala (A. C. Madan, Lala-Lamba Handbook, pp. 49, 50) of the 
Cock and the Wakansuwa (a night bird). There is a Nyanja story 
of the Cock and the Swallow which is similar (A. Werner, British 
Central Africa, p. 238). Also in a Suto tale (Jacottet, Basnto Lore, 
p. 13) the Hare plays the same trick on the Hlolo rabbit. 

4. Hare plays a Trick upon the Dragon 

Hare and the she-Dragon were without fire, so Hare said : 
' Dragon, as we have no fire, let us steal some from the 
village." Dragon agreed and said : " All right, let us go." 
And Dragon said to Hare : " How are we to steal the fire ? " 
Hare answered : " Let us be cunning in our stealing." 
Dragon said : " How cunning ? ' Said Hare : " Come, 
Dragon, let me tie some grass around your head." So 
Dragon came to Hare and he tied a bunch of grass around 
her head ; and Dragon asked him, saying : " How am I 
to steal, now that you have tied a bunch of grass around 
my head ? ' Hare answered : " Go to the village and on 
your arrival stick your head into the fire and the grass will 
get ablaze ; then run off and come back here." 

So Dragon went to the village of men, and on arrival 
entered the village. When they saw her they said : " Here's 
a Dragon." And all the people ran away in fear. Dragon 
entered a house and found fire blazing ; she put in her 
head tied round with grass and the grass on her head 
caught fire. She ran off to return to Hare ; she ran 
calling out : ' Hare ! Hare ! " Hare answered, saying : 


" Hallo ! " Said Dragon : " Here's the fire.! " Hare said : 
" Bring it here ! " So Dragon ran again. But Hare 
started running also and went on ahead. Then Dragon 
got on fire and died. 

So when Dragon was dead, her child said : "As my 
mother has died from fire, I shall go and sleep in a hollow 
tree and in a burrow, I shall not again sit by a fire." Then 
he turned fierce and said : "I am truly Dragon. I am 
Lumanyendo. I am the one of the air ! " He got very 
fierce because of the fire which burnt his mother. He also 
got red about the neck. And the red wattles he has are 
the fire with which he was burnt long ago. It is Hare that 
made him fierce by killing him with fire. He has not again 
warmed himself at a fire. To this day Dragon frequently 
dies of fire, by being burnt in the hollow of a tree and in 
the burrows where he sleeps. It is Hare that established 
the death of Dragon by fire. 

Note. — Whether there really is such a monster as Mulala we do 
not know, but certainly the description of it seems fabulous. It 
will, it is said, swallow as many as a hundred people in a day and 
as many cattle. It even flies through the air to reach its victims. 
Various places are pointed out as its habitat, and those places are 
carefully avoided by passers-by. Nobody can live within range 
of its depredations. In the imagination of the people it is a most 
terrific creature with its fire-darting eyes. " Dragon " seems to 
convey the idea of it. 

5. Hare makes himself Horns of Beeswax 

Hare and Ground Hornbill went off to a beer drink. 
It was said : " Nobody without horns is allowed to drink 
beer." So when Hare heard that he moulded beeswax on 
his head so that they might think he had horns. They 
went to the beer drink. On their arrival Hare went to sit 
near the fire while Hornbill stayed near the door. They gave 
them beer. Presently Hornbill said : " The beeswax is 
melting." The people said : " What does he say ? " Hare 
answered : " Hornbill is asking for the sediment of the 
beer." They gave him some. When Hornbill looked 
again at Hare, he saw the beeswax that he had moulded on 
his head beginning to run down, and he said : " The beeswax 



is melting." The people said : " What does Hornbill say ? " 
Hare answered : " He is asking for the lees." They gave 
him some -and he drank. Presently Hare's beeswax 
melted ; and running Hare ran ! — out of the house. That 
is how he deceived them. 

6. Hare plays a Trick on Ground Hornbill 

Hornbill and Hare left their homes and went off to pay 
a visit to some relations by marriage. When they left home, 
Hornbill had a lump of bread and Hare also had a lump 
of bread. As they were going along they found a stream of 
running water. Hare said : " Hornbill ! ' Said Hornbill : 
" What do you say, Shanakanchiza ? " Hare said : " I spoke 
of this little river ; it cannot be crossed in the ordinary way. 
We must throw our bread into the river in order to cross all 
right." Hornbill gave his consent, and Hare, beginning, 
threw a lump of ants' nest, and Hornbill threw in his lump 
of bread. They crossed over. When they had crossed 
over Hare said : ' The great discoverer has discovered his 
lump of bread ! ' Hornbill said : " And what am I to 
eat ? ' Hare answered, saying : ' And you — you throw 
away your bread and then you say, ' What am I to eat ? ' " 
Hornbill took out his spear to buy Hare's lump of bread, 
and he gave it him. But although he ate, Hornbill was not 

Hare had coveted Hornbill's spear and thought, Let me 
trick him into selling his spear to me. So they arrived at 
Hare's relation by marriage, Hornbill and Chinkambaminwe. 

Note. — Shanakanchiza and Chinkambaminwe are two of Hare's 
praise-names. * 

7. Hare scares Hyena 

" Who are you ? " said Hyena. 

" I am He-who-vomits-the-blood-of-his-victims. One 
family of Hyenas is wiped out. Now I am going to eat 
you and so start on the second." 

Hyena ran off and got into a burrow. And to this day he 
sleeps in a burrow, does Hyena, and Hare in a bush. 


8. Hare causes Lion, who had stolen his Mother, to be stung 

to Death by Bees 

Lion stole Hare's mother in order to help a relation pay 
for a wife. Having stolen Hare's mother, he tied her up 
in a bundle of grass ; when he had done tying up the bundle 
he called Hare, Snake and Frog to carry it. So when those 
three, Hare, Snake and Frog, arrived, Lion said to them : 
" I called you, friends, to accompany me to my relations' 
place." So Hare and Snake and Frog consented. They 
said : " It is well, chief, let us go." Lion said : " Hare, 
carry the bundle." Hare carried it and they all went on 
their journey, Lion and Hare and Snake and Frog. 

When they arrived at a village they entered, and the 
people greeted them. They greeted Lion, saying : " You 
are still in the land of the living ? " Lion answered : ' We 
are." Said they : " What's the news ? " Said Lion : 
" Nothing particular, only that Hare is carrying a bundle 
that he knows nothing of." They greeted Hare and he 
simply answered : " Yes, we are still alive." Said they : 
" What's the news ? " Said he : " There is none." They 
greeted Snake, saying : " You are still alive ? ' Snake 
answered : " We are still alive." Said they : " What's the 
news ? " Said he : " We went far, very far indeed, in 
order to swallow some little short people." They greeted 
Frog, saying : " Frog, you- are still alive." Said he : " We 
are still alive." "What's the news?" Said he: "One 
can swallow a softy without difficulty." All this puzzled 

They left that village and went their way. On the road 
Hare stayed behind and untied the bundle and found his 
mother inside ; he took her out and tied up some bees in 
her stead. Again they arrived at a village, and the people 
greeted them in the same way, saying : " Lion, you are 
still alive?" Said he: "We are still alive." "What's 
the news ? " Said he : " Nothing particular, only Hare is 
carrying a bundle that he knows nothing of." " Snake, you 
are still alive ? " Said he : " We are still alive." Said 
they : " What's the news ? " Said he : "We went far, 
very far indeed, in order to swallow some little short people." 

ch. xxviii FOLK-TALES 383 

" Frog, you are still alive ? " Said he : " We are still alive." 
" What's the news ? " Said he : " One can swallow a 
softy without- difficulty." Said they : " Hare, you are 
still alive ? " Said he : "We are still alive." " What's 
the news ? " Said he : " Cunning he has who cunning 

They left that village and went on travelling to Lion's 
relations' home ; on arrival there they entered the house 
and Lion put therein the bundle. Hare went out with 
Frog, leaving Snake and Lion in the house. They shut the 
door and Lion said to his relations, " Hare's mother is in 
the bundle. Untie it." They untied it and all the house 
was filled with bees. Snake entered a burrow, but Lion 
and his relations were killed by the bees ; so they perished, 
the whole lot of them. 

9. Hyena, incited thereto by Hare, wants to wear a 

Lion's Skin 

Hare said : " I will wear Lion's skin." When Hyena 
saw Hare wearing Lion's skin, he said to Hare : " Hare ! ' 
Hare answered : " Hallo ! " Said Hyena : " Where did 
you get that skin ? " Said Hare : ' I got it by killing ; 
go you and hunt and kill a Lion and you will get a skin 

Hyena agreed and went to hunt the Lions with a club. 
He found the Lions did Hyena, but as he was throwing his 
club the Lions chased him. Hyena ran away and went 
to Hare ; and on reaching Hare said : " Hare ! ' Hare 
answered saying : " Hallo ! ' Said Hyena : " You de- 
ceived me and I shall kill you." So Hare ran off, entered 
a burrow, and stripped himself of the Lion's skin, and went 
out at the escape-hole. Hyena also entered the burrow, but 
when he tried to get out found the Lions at the entrance. 
He went back into the burrow and did not come out again 
but died there in the burrow. So it is said : "A crow 
doesn't find his Impande unsuitable to wear " (that is, a 
man can wear his own armour but not another's). 

Note. — An impande is the round white shell worn as an orna- 
ment, and the white-breasted crow is said to wear one. 


10. How Hare and Crocodile helped' each other 

Hare was sitting in the bush by the side of a river and 
wanted a canoe. When he saw Crocodile travelling in a canoe 
Hare shouted out : " Take me in ! " So Crocodile brought 
the canoe to Hare. Then Hare began to run down the canoe 
which Crocodile had brought to him ; said he : "It stinks 
horribly, vilely — awful ! " Then Crocodile said : " What do 
you say, Hare ? " Hare answered, saying : " No, chief, 
your canoe is very fine, it surpasses all other canoes." 
Again Hare was mumbling : " This canoe of a slave stinks 
horribly. I have got myself into a mess by entering this 
canoe." Again Crocodile said : " You, Hare, have got a 
lot to say, you are always talking about my canoe." Hare 
said : " No, chief, I am very pleased indeed to enter the 
canoe of a chief." 

Presently the canoe arrived at the bank. Then Hare 
said : " Do you want some meat, Crocodile ? " Crocodile 
answered : "I want it very badly." Then he said : " You 
must go and cover yourself up entirely with mud. I am 
going to bring you some meat, and you must make yourself 
like a corpse." 

So Crocodile wrapped himself up in mud, and Hare went 
off, going along calling out : "Is there nobody who wants 
meat ? " Now there was a Hyena near who heard and 
ran to Hare ; said he : " What do you say, Hare ? " Hare 
said : " My word ! There is meat yonder at the river, are 
you hungry ? " Hyena said : "I am very hungry indeed." 

So they went off together. When they arrived at the 
river, he said : " Now, Hyena, you must keep your eyes 
very wide open. I left the meat here in this muddy place." 
Presently he said : " Hurrah i There's the meat yonder." 
So Hyena took a spring and seized the meat, saying : "I 
am grateful, Hare." Hare said : " You must not eat it 
here, take it yonder, and eat it in the deep water and wash 
the meat well." 

Now Hyena did so ; he tugged and took the meat to the 
shallow water. Then Hyena asked : " Is it here I am to eat ? " 
Hare said : " No, take it to deep water up to your neck." 
Then Hyena took it farther out, and Hare said : " Crocodile, 

ch. xxviii FOLK-TALES 385 

seize him ; that slave wants very badly to eat." Then 
Crocodile arose and laid hold of Hyena with force, killed 
him, and drew him down below. Thereupon Hare went 
off and Hyena was at the bottom of the river. 

Note. — Another version of this tale shows that the canoe that 
Hare was so contemptuous of was nothing but Crocodile's own 
body on which he was crossing the stream. No wonder he did 
not want Crocodile to hear his remarks in midstream. In this 
version, too, Hare opens the conversation by saying : " Nvhuna olwa 
ku muma, ante ndakuvhuna olwa ku menzhi : " Help me in my need 
on the bank and I will help you in yours in the water." That is now 
a proverb with something of the meaning of : " Do good to others 
that they may do good to you." 

11. Hare kills many Lions 

Hare once found some Lions eating meat, and when he 
found them he said : " Let me pick the fleas out of your 
tails." But he was deceiving them. They thought he was 
picking out fleas, whereas he was digging pits. When he 
had finished digging the pits, he buried their tails and 
rammed them down tight. When he had done ramming, 
he went into the forest and fetched a big drum ; he began 
beating it in order to deceive them . When the Lions heard 
the big drum they tried to flee, and he went on beating 
vigorously the big drum so that they should run away and 
leave the meat behind. Then again he said : "At the 
family of Hares is the place to take refuge." So the Lions 
broke away, leaving their tails, which he had rammed down 
so hard. 

Later, Hare plucked the hair all out of his body, and 
came and met the Lions and asked them : " Haven't you 
seen those people who said they would eat me ? ' The Lions 
answered saying : " We have not seen them who said they 
would eat you." And then the Lions said : " You are Hare 
who caused us tc break our tails." Hare answered, saying : 
" No, I am not. Perhaps it is my namesake, Hare." Then 
Hare said to himself : " They will kill me, I had better 
trick them." So he called them, saying : " Come here 
and take down my axe for me." But underneath he had 
dug a game-pit. Then the Lions said : " Who was it that 

vol. 11 2 c 


hung up the axe ? " Said he : " Come and take down the 
axe for me, I am too short." When Lion reached up to 
bring down the axe he fell into the game-pit. When he fell 
into the game-pit Hare took down his axe, jumped into 
the pit and cut Lion about and killed him. He called 
another. He also came, and in trying to take down the axe 
fell into the game-pit. He killed him. There came another, 
and he killed him. He finished them all. When he had 
done killing them, he went back to the meat ; on arriving 
at the meat he built a platform and dried the meat ; there- 
upon he built a village and became a chief. 

12. Hare deceives Jackal three times 

Hare and Jackal were going visiting and on the way 

found some grass. On finding the grass Hare said : 

' Comrade, this grass — when we are given ground-nuts 

there where we are going, fetch the grass so that we can 

roast the nuts with it." 

When they arrived at their destination the people gave 
them nuts. When they gave them nuts, Hare said : 
" Comrade, go and bring yon grass that we left in the 
way, so that we may roast the nuts." During the time he 
was gone to fetch the grass, Hare ate the nuts they had 
been given. On Jackal's return he asked : " Where are 
the nuts that they gave us ? Here is the grass." Hare 
answered, saying : " The owners have eaten them." 

Again they departed and went to the cattle-post. As 
they were going along in the way they found some pieces 
of calabash : and Hare said : " Comrade, when we are 
given milk you must come back for these bits of calabash 
so that we can use them to drink our milk." On their 
arrival they were given some thick milk ; on being given 
the milk, Hare said : " Comrade, bring those bits of calabash 
that we left in the way, let us drink our milk from them." 
While he was going Hare drank all the milk, only some he 
spilt on the ground. Then Jackal returned, bringing the 
bits of calabash, and said : " Here are the pieces of cala- 
bash, bring the milk and let us eat." Hare answered, 
saying : 'I am greatly astonished, Comrade, because the 

ch. xxviii FOLK-TALES 3§7 

milk they gave us they have taken it away again and 
eaten it. See here is where they were eating and spilt 
some of it." Jackal was grieved very much on account 
of his friend having deceived him twice. Jackal has no 

On another occasion, Hare said : " Let us go and eat 
ground-nuts, Jackal." They went off and when they 
reached the nut field dug up the nuts. When they were 
drunk with them they slept ; Master Hare arose in the 
night and dug a deep hole and buried the tail of Jackal 
and rammed it down hard. When he had done ramming 
he aroused him, saying : " Get up, my dear, people are 
coming. They will kill us, let us be off." He himself ran, 
but his friend was unable to run, and the owners of the 
nuts found him. They killed Jackal. That is how his 
friend deceived him. Jackal has no cunning. 

13. Hare breaks all Lion's Teeth and so kills him 

Master Hare found Lion and said : " Let us go and play 
as my uncles the Elephants played." Lion answered, say- 
ing : " Let us go." 

On their arrival Lion climbed a tree and Hare looked 
for a fairly large stone. Lion took that stone with him 
into the tree. When Lion was about to throw it from 
near by, Hare said : " No, go right away up -there among 
the leaves, while I am still preparing myself here below." 
Hare plucked some leaves and chewed them. Lion let the 
stone go and Hare opened his mouth. When he saw it 
coming near him Hare jumped away and dodged so that 
it did not drop where he was. Just as it fell, Hare spat out 
the leaves on to the stone and asked Lion, saying : " Don't 
you see these little dirty things ? " l Lion agreed, saying : 
' Yes. And now I will open my mouth and you climb to 
the top of the tree with the stone." 

Hare took it, and Lion below opened his mouth. Hare 
went right to the tip-top to let the stone go from there. 
Lion opened his mouth and when he saw the stone coming 
near he opened it very widely indeed. And as he opened 

1 The idea is, of course, that the stone went through his body. 


his mouth in that manner the stone reached his teeth and 
all the teeth were smashed. And Lion died. 

When Hare descended he said : "As for me I am 
astonished. How do these uncles of mine open their 
mouths ? I told him myself, saying : Open your mouth 
very widely. And he opened it only just a little. And so 
for that reason he has killed himself. Once again have I 
deceived these uncles of mine." 

When he had done this, he ran and went away. 

Note. — There is a Lala tale (A. C. Madan, Lala-Lamba Handbook, 
pp. 46, 47) called Kalulu ne Nkalamu which is similar. Instead of 
a tree, Hare tells Lion to climb a hill and roll down the stone. The 
Hare jumps aside and spits leaves upon it, seeing which the Lion 
thought the stone certainly went into Hare's stomach. Of course 
on trying to emulate Hare he meets with disaster ; not at once but 
next morning. 

14. Hare eats Lion's Children 

Mrs. Lion bore children, and after she had borne them 
Hare came to nurse them. Mrs. Lion went out to graze, 
and Hare ate one of the young Lions. He went about with 
a grain-mortar outside the village (that its impressions on 
the sand might resemble Elephant's footprints). When 
Mrs. Lion returned he deceived her by saying : ' Some 
Elephants passed by and it is they who ate your child." 
He took out one of the children and went to suckle it at 
its mother. Afterwards Mrs. Lion went out to hunt, and 
on her return she found that Hare had eaten them all, 
every one. 

Hare went travelling and he found some animals at 
their village that they had built, he found them playing. 
He deceived them, saying : " To-morrow I am going to 
bring my Dog, come and see it." He went back to tie 
Mrs. Lion up, and having tied her round the neck, he said : 
" Lion, I have found those who ate your children. I 
deceived them, saying : to-morrow I shall bring my Dog ; 
come and see it." 

Next morning they went off ; Hare tied Mrs. Lion up 
with a rope around her neck and took her to that village, 
saying : " Let me take you to those who ate your children. 



When I get there I shall say : See my Dog ! — and then you 
shall kill them." 

On his arrival, he said : " See my Dog ! ' All the 
animals admired it and said : "A fine Dog ! ' Presently 
he took the rope off her neck, and she ran and bit all the 
animals. When they were all bitten, they cut up the meat, 
and having cut up the meat they dried it, and when it 
was dry loaded themselves with it. 

Hare loaded himself, so did Mrs. Lion, and they went 
off on their journey. On the way the carrying-stick of 
Mrs. Lion broke and Hare said : " Go and cut another." 
While she was away, Hare went off with all Mrs. Lion's 
meat. When Mrs. Lion came back she found the meat 
missing, and though she looked about she could not find 

She went off to have the matter divined by Mr. Ant, and 
he said : "Go and look in the water and there you will 
see Hare." She went to the water ; on arrival she looked 
and saw a shadow x in the water and the meat ; she dived 
in and came up. Again she looked in the water and found 
the shadow, and again she dived into the water, but she 
was unable to see Hare. She went back to Mr. Ant, and 
he said : "Go and look in the tree on the river bank and 
you will see Hare." She went to look in the tree and found 
Hare. As soon as Hare saw her, he said : ' Mrs. Lion, 
open your mouth, here is some bread." He .put a stone 
into the bread, and when Mrs. Lion opened her mouth 
Hare threw it into her mouth. He destroyed all her teeth 
and then Hare ran off. 

Note. — The eating of lioness's cubs by the Hare is a frequent 
incident in Bantu tales. In another version of the Ila tale, the 
cubs number ten and the Hare eats one each day, but every day, 
till the last, he deceives the mother by bringing out a cub ten times 
and taking it back. In a Suto tale ( Jacottet, op. cit. p. 40) the Jackal 
deceives a Leopard in the same way. Mr. Jacottet quotes other 
references, and suggests that in the Suto tale the Jackal has been 
substituted for the Hare. 

1 It was, of course, Hare's shadow she saw and thought it was himself 
under the water, while really he was up in the tree. Another instance 
of the stupidity of the Lion tribe. 


15. Hare is outwitted by Mrs. Tortoise 

All the animals were dying of thirst, and they said : 
" Let us see who will be the first to reach the water." 
Now, Mrs. Tortoise had borne many children, and she went 
along burying them in the earth, and one child she buried 
by the side of the water. 

Now all the animals said : " Let us run hard and go to 
the river and drink water." 

They rose early and all ran, saying : " Let us see who 
will be the first to arrive." 

So they ran and the Tortoises went on saying: "Forward, 
oh companions of Hare ! " Again they ran and again the 
tortoises said : " Forward, oh companions of Hare ! ' The 
sun went down and they went on shouting : " One day 
has passed. Forward, oh companions of Hare ! " 

Next day the animals were dead with fatigue, and the 
child of Mrs. Tortoise who was by the water-side shouted : 
" Forward, oh companions of Hare ! " 

And Hare was done up and could not reach the water. 
And Mrs. Tortoise's child that was by the river-side brought 
them water in his mouth ; he came to spew it out for the 
animals. He said : " And it is you who started the dispute 
saying, We will outdo Tortoise in speed. And now what's 
the matter that you did not arrive ? You are youngsters. 
I am the great-one ; I reached the water. You are 
youngsters." Then he spat out the water for them which 
he had in his mouth. And they were unable to answer a 
word, but were simply ashamed. 

Note. — Brer Rabbit in Uncle Remus is defeated in the same way 
by Brer Tarrypin. " He had a wife en th'ee chilluns, old Brer 
Tarrypin did, en dey wuz all de ve'y spin and image er de ole man. . ." 
On the day of the race : " ole Brer Tarrypin en his ole 'oman, en 
his th'ee chilluns dey got up 'fo' sun up and went ter de place. De 
ol 'oman she tuck 'er stan' nigh de fus' mile pos', she did, en de 
chilluns nigh de udders, up ter de las', en dar old Brer Tarrypin 
he tuck his stan'." 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 391 

16. How Hare deceives the Animals and drives them away 

from the Fruit 

Once in the season of the Imbula fruit all the animals 
of every species whatsoever were in the forest eating the 
fruit as ordained by God ; only Jackal and Hare found 
none for them as the others gave them no room. This 
annoyed Jackal and Hare. Next day, being very hungry, 
Hare went to call Fish-eagle, saying : " Chung we ! ' The 
Fish-eagle answered : " Hallo, Sulwe ! What is it ? ' 
vSaid Hare : " You are able to fly, so come and sit on an 
Imbula tree where all the animals are eating. Then when 
I come to them I shall suggest to them that we call aloud 
to God and ask Him whose land this is, and do you 
reply : ' It belongs to Hare and Jackal.' Do you under- 
stand ? " 

So Fish-eagle went and sat on the Imbula tree. It 
was early morning and there was a great crowd of animals 
wending their way to the Imbula forest. Hare and Jackal 
had made a compact. Hare had said : " Let us go at 
dawn and call to God. Those animals always cheat us so 
that we never get any Imbula." And Jackal had agreed, 
saying : " Splendid. We will get up very early." So they 
slept lightly, and when the first cock crowed they were on 
their feet going to the forest. When they got near they 
saw the great crowd of animals coming up, and as they 
were about to eat the fruit Jackal and Hare arrived. Hare 
said to them : " Now then, all of you. To-day you must 
not start eating yet." All the animals said to Hare : 
' Tell us what you have to say, Sulwe." Jackal and Hare 
replied : " What we have got to do is to call aloud to God 
in the sky, to ask whose land it is, so that we may hear 
what He says on the matter." The animals said : " We 
agree. That is good." Now Fish-eagle was sitting up in 
the tree and had been told by Hare : " When I shout, do 
not answer, but when Elephant shouts answer as I told you." 
So Hare shouted out first, and then Elephant shouted, and 
Fish-eagle made reply : ' The land belongs to Jackal and 
Hare." Hearing this answer, all the animals were stricken 
with surprise and said : " What does God say ? " Elephant 


answered : " He says the land belongs to Hare and Jackal." 
So the animals said : " Elephant, ask again ; how can this 
land belong to Jackal and Hare ? " So Elephant shouted 
again : " O God, to whom does the land belong ? " And 
Chungwe — whose voice they took to be God's — replied : 
" It belongs to Hare and Jackal." The animals yelled in 
chorus : ' How can it be theirs ? " And Elephant asked 
again : ' O God, how can it belong to Hare and Jackal ? ' 
And Chungwe, whom they supposed to be God, replied : "It 
does belong to them. Leave off eating the fruit here in 
this Imbula forest. Only Jackal is to eat it ! " So all the 
animals made their departure crestfallen. Since then they 
have no longer eaten Imbula fruit ; which became the 
property of Jackal and other soft-footed things like himself. 
Hare has plenty of wisdom, but he himself does not 
now eat Imbula. Jackal became Shimbula ; that is his 
name : " Eater of Imbula." And this because of Hare's 
deceiving them by sending Fish -eagle to the forest to 
impersonate God. 

17. How Hare made a Fool of himself 

Hare and Crested Crane went out to dig up a certain root 
named munkonyongo, and presently Hare left what he had 
with Crested Crane while he went some distance off to dig 
others. While he was gone his companion ate Hare's roots. 
On returning, Hare asked for his roots and Crested Crane 
answered : "I have eaten them, my dear." Hare then 
claimed compensation, and was given the crest off Crane's 

Having received this, Hare went off to another district 
and there met a man who had no head ornament. He said 
to the man : " You do not look well, oh man, without an 
ornament on your head." The man answered : ' Lend 
me your crest." Hare handed it to him and he put it on. 
He went off and on the road lost the crest and going back 
to Hare said : " Sulwe, the crest is lost." Hare said to 
him : ' No, don't say that. How is it that you have thrown 
away my crest ? I got it from Crested Crane, my brother, 
in return for my munkonyongo which he ate. You must 



give me compensation." So the man gave Hare a spear, 
who took it and went to another place. 

There he found a man who was trying to skin an animal 
with his nails, and said to him : " You are in trouble having 
no spear." The man answered : " True, Sulwe, I am in 
trouble." Hare said : ' Here's a spear, take it and skin 
your animal." The man took it and used it, but after 
finishing his work lost the spear. Presently Hare returned 
to him and said : " Where's the spear you were skinning 
with ? " Said he : " Since I finished skinning I haven't seen 
it." Hearing that, Hare said to the man : " You must 
give me something for the spear you have lost." The man 
gave him some lumps of meat, and after taking it, Hare 
went off to another place. 

Here he found a man eating bread without a relish and 
said to him : " Here in this place what do you use as a 
relish with your food ? " The man replied : ' Nothing. 
We only have bread." Said Hare : " Here's some meat." 
The man took and ate it and when he had done so Hare 
said to him : " Give me something for my meat you have 
eaten." The man paid Hare some meal. 

Hare went off to another place carrying the meal, and 
there found a man making a supper off meat. Said Hare 
to him : " What are you eating ? " The man replied : 
' What am I supping ? Meat only." Said Hare : ' Here's 
some meal ; eat." The man took it with thanks and ate it. 
Then Hare waxed indignant and said : " Give me back my 
meal which you have eaten." The man answered : " How 
can I do that ? I've eaten it." Hare said : " You must 
give me something then for the meal you have eaten. I got 
it from a man who was eating bread because he ate my 
meat, and the meat I got from a man skinning an animal 
with his nails who lost the spear I lent him ; and the spear 
I got from a man to whom I had given a crest ; the crest 
I got from Crested Crane, who had eaten my munkonyongo." 
The man gave Hare a new earthenware pot, unbaked. 

So Hare went off to another place. On the way he came 
to a pool of water and took his pot from his shoulder to 
draw some water, but when he put it into water the pot 
dissolved and came to an end. 


So Hare burst into tears and was much ashamed of 
himself . He could no longer go about extorting things from 
people now that his pot was dissolved. And so it is said : 
" Wisdom does not sleep in one head " — which is to say : 
Even a wise man is a fool sometimes. 

18. Hare's last Adventures and Death 

Elephant and Hare found some fruit called munjebele, 
and they found there also an old woman living in a tumble- 
down house. Lion passed by and found that old woman ; 
and she gathered some of the fruit as a welcoming gift, 
saying : " This is the food that I eat here." Lion asked, 
saying : " What is the name of that fruit ? " And she told 
him, saying : " Munjebele." Said she : " Go along saying 
it in the road and tell your friends, so that you may eat 
that which you found here." 

But on the way Lion came to a slippery place and fell ; 
and on reaching his friends they asked him, saying : " What 
is the fruit which you ate there ? " He said : "I fell 
midway and have forgotten the name." 

And so Elephant went there that he might ask the name. 
On Elephant's arrival at the old woman's she told him, 
saying : " That fruit is munjebele. Go along singing : 
Munjebele, munjebele. Don't forget." When he arrived 
at the same place where Lion fell, the Elephant fell also, 
and forgot the name of munjebele. 

On his arrival Hare went off, and reaching that old 
woman he asked, saying : " What is the name of that 
fruit which they say they have forgotten ? " Said she : 
" Munjebele." And she gave him a bell. She tied the 
bell around his neck, saying : " When you are going 
to fall, call out : Munjebele ! munjebele ! ' When he 
came there to the slippery place he fell, but called out : 
" Munjebele ! " 

Hare arrived there where his friends were, and he plucked 
some of that munjebele fruit and ate. His friends inquired : 
' Do you know the name ? " Still going on eating, he 
said : ' It is munjebele ; eat it without bother." 

When he had done eating, Hare said : " Let us go to 



water, I know where, and let us drink." When they had 
done drinking they slept behind that pool. 

It was said : " He who commits a nuisance will be 
killed ; this is the pool of other people." While they slept 
in the night Hare had stomach-ache and went to relieve 
himself near Elephant, so that they might say, Our uncles 
the elephants have made the mess, and if anyone was to 
be destroyed for it they would kill Elephant. So they 
killed Elephant. 

They said : ' Who is to carry his head ? ' They said : 
" Hare, of course ! " So they took up their meat and 
went off. Master Hare lagged behind, saying : " The 
big head of Great-skull burdens me." Then he sang : 
' He made a mess, that little one, and smeared it upon 
Jumbo." He found Buffalo resting on ahead, and Buffalo 
asked him, saying : " What are you going along singing 
about, Hare ? ' Said he : " Nothing, my uncle. I was 
singing : ' The big head burdens me, it needs Great-skull 
to bear it himself.' ' Buffalo called Hare, saying : " Let 
us go on." Once again he put his burden down and 
Buffalo passed on in front. And again he took up 
his song, saying : " He made a mess, that little one, and 
smeared it upon Jumbo." 

Elephant caught hold of him, saying : " It is you who 
told lies about the elder." Hare said : " Now as you 
have taken me in this way, you must no.t hit me on the 
rock, or I shall not die. Hit me yonder on the burrow of 
Spring Hare ; that is where I shall die." But the little 
one was deceiving them. When they reached the burrow 
and were about to hit him, he got into the burrow. 

One of them put his arm into the burrow and caught 
him by the leg, but he spoke in the burrow, saying : " It's 
not me you are holding, it's a big root ! ' When he heard 
that he who had hold of him let go, saying : "It seems 
truly that I had hold of a root." So they brought a hoe 
and began to dig, and the little one went out and came 
along the road, with his hair braided and changed into a 
human being. On his arrival he asked Elephant, -saying : 
'What are you digging here, uncle.?" Said he: "We 
are digging out Master Hare, he left us and got into the 


burrow." Said he : " Bring the hoe and let me dig." He 
dug, and the hoe-handle came out. Said he : " What are 
we to hit the hoe upon ? If we hit it on a tree it will 
not be firm. Bring one of your legs and let us hit it on 

He hit it a little, and dug, and again the handle came 
out. Said he : " Bring forward your head, uncle, let us 
hit it on that." He chopped him, he chopped him, and 
then went into the burrow. 

Buffalo put in his arm and caught hold of him. And 
the little one sang his song — just this : " It is not me you 
have caught, you are holding a large root." 

They said : " Let's go and divine the matter." They 
went off to get it divined by Mr. Ant. Mr. Ant said : 
" Now when you see him, simply get hold of him." 

They came back. On arrival they dug. And the little 
one appeared in the road, coming along playing a hand- 
piano, and when he arrived he inquired, saying : " What 
are you digging ? " Said they : " We are digging-out that one 
who wounded our friend and killed him." Now they mis- 
took him and so did not seize him : he took the hoe from 
them and dug. The handle came out and he said : "Buffalo, 
my uncle, bring your head, let us hit it on that." He 
wounded him just there, and got into the burrow. They 
caught hold of him and he sang his song : " It's not me 
you've caught, you are holding a big root." 

Then they said : " He's too much for us. He has very 
great cunning. Let us leave him." 

Later on, all the animals were collected together and 
they said : " Let us go and dig out the water-hole." When 
Hare heard that, he said : "I refuse to dig the water-hole. 
I have got my own water." When all the animals heard 
that, they said : " Hare, as you refuse to dig the water- 
hole, if we see you getting water out of our hole we shall 
kill you." When he heard that, Hare said : " No, as for 
me, I don't want to get water out of your hole." 

Then all the animals went to dig out the water-hole. 
When they had done digging, Lion said : " Now it is neces- 
sary that one should watch, let it be Gnu." So Gnu stayed 
behind to guard the water-hole. 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 397 

Then as he was looking out he saw Hare coming along 
to the hole ; so Gnu said : " Now though you have come 
here you shall not get water." He drove Hare away. As 
Hare was turning round Gnu saw the calabash of honey on 
his back, and said : " What's that ? " Hare answered : 
" In here there is mangwalozhi, 1 and if an adult is not tied 
up he cannot eat it." Gnu said : " Give me a taste." Hare 
gave him a taste. When he knew the niceness of it Gnu said 
to him : " Tie me ! " So he tied him up with strength and 
entered the hole and drew water. When he had done 
drawing, he went off, leaving Gnu tied up. 

After a time all the animals came to drink and found 
Gnu tied up. Said they : " You big fellow, how did that 
little child tie you up ? " They unbound him. Then they 
left Lion, saying : " If you see him, bite him." 

Later on Hare came back ; Lion got very fierce and 
said : " What do you want ? Yesterday you tied one 
person up." He got very fierce indeed, and drove him 
away. As Hare turned round Lion saw the calabash on 
his back and said : " What's that ? " Hare answered : 
" In here there is mangwalozhi, and if an adult is not tied 
up he may not eat it." Then Lion said : " Let me taste." 
Hare gave him some. Then he said : " Tie me up ! " 
So Hare tied him up and, after cutting off his tail, went off. 

When the Elephants came down they said : " He has 
tied you up, you big fellow, you who are able to bite all 
the animals ! Why ? ' Then Lion answered : " Because 
he has got cunning." Then they said : " We will leave 
Elephant." Elephant stayed behind and Hare came. 
Elephant drove him off, saying : " Leave me alone and go 
away." Then when he looked he saw the calabash, and 
said : " What have you got ? " Said he : "I have got 
some mangwalozhi, and unless an adult is tied up he may 
not eat it." Said he : " Let me taste." He gave him to 
taste, and Elephant said : " Tie me up ! " Then he tied 

1 Mangwalozhi, literally, "Things tied up with string." What they 
were we do not know. They must have been bewitchingly delicious to 
have enticed so easily Hare's enemies into offering themselves to be tied 
up, if only they might enjoy them. Evidently some ambrosia of Hare's 
own making. And we are led to suppose that, after all, his victims only 
had the preliminary taste. 


him up, and threw him away over there, and drew some 

When he had done he went off. When the others came 
back they found Elephant already tied up, and said : " We 
cannot manage that person, he has got cunning." 

Then Tortoise said : "I will stay behind at the hole 
and watch — I ! ' Then they acted cunningly. They put 
bird-lime all over Tortoise's body and put him by the hole. 

Presently he saw Hare coming ; then Tortoise said : 
" Let him come, that Hare, he shan't draw water." Then 
Hare arrived at the hole and said to himself : " It's that 
bad fellow they've left at the hole ! " Then Hare said : 
" I am going to draw water to-day." Hare went into the 
hole, and pushed past Tortoise, and his arm stuck fast. 
Then he kicked him with his feet, and they also stuck. 
Said he : " If I butt you with my head you will die." He 
butted him with his head and the head stuck fast. He 
struck him with his tail and that also stuck. 

Then the big ones came, they seized Hare and killed 

And that is the end of Hare's history. 

Note. — The latter part of this tale is found among the Basuto 
(Jacottet : op. cit. p. 32), but there it is the Jackal that refuses to dig. 
The Rabbit keeps watch and is deceived again and again by the Jackal; 
then the Tortoise is set to watch and catches him. Mr. Jacottet 
says the story seems to be very popular in S. Africa and cites tales 
from the Basubia, Baronga, and Basumbwa in which Hare plays the 
part taken by the Jackal in the Suto story. He suggests that Hare 
is the original figure, and that Jackal is substituted probably through 
direct or indirect Hottentot influence. 

Hare's end is to be compared with Uncle Remus's story of the 
wonderful tar -baby. 

Part III 

Tales of People and Animals 
1. The Man who called Lions to his aid 

A man lived in the forest with his wife and son. Some 
people were sent by their master, saying : "Go and hunt 
for some meat for me." During their hunting they found 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 399 

this woman in the forest, and she gave them some milk. 
Then they turned back, and on their return they said to their 
master : " There where we went we found a fine woman 
whom you, chief, ought to marry." Then the chief 
answered : "Go and bring her." They said : " We will 
go in the morning." 

Next day they went their way for the purpose of find- 
ing that woman, and on their arrival they said to her : 
" You must take a journey." The woman did not refuse 
but said : " Let us go." She took her ceremonial axe. 
Then she went off, carrying her pot of fat. 

Then the child began to call his father, saying : " Father, 
hunting, hunting game there in the forest ! " His father 
heard the calling and came back. Then the father put 
down his meat — Reedbuck — and asked his child, saying : 
' Who has taken away your mother ? ' Said he : 
' Strangers." Thereupon his father went off, carrying his 
bow ; and the track that his wife had passed along was 
not lost. He found them and said : " Where are you 
taking my wife to ? " They said : " We were sent by 
the chief." Then he drove them off, killing one and cutting 
off the lips of the other. He who had his lips cut off, when 
he arrived at the chief's, said : " It is not possible to arrive 
there." The chief answered, saying : " You are fools." 
And he said also : " My men shall go." 

Then he sounded his alarm bell, did the chief of the 
district, and it called the young men. Then "they assembled 
at the chief's. Next morning they started to go to the 
woman. When they arrived the woman gave them milk. 
When they had drunk the milk, they inquired : " Where 
has your husband gone ? " She answered : "He has gone 
into the forest." Then they told the woman : " It is you 
we have come for, the chief wants you to be his wife." 

Then the woman rose up, and that child began to look 
about and to call : " Father, where you are hunting game 
yonder ! ' When his father heard it he came running, and 
on arrival said to the child : " Who are they ? " Said he : 
" The same that took her first." So on his arrival he said 
to the child : " Stay here, I am going to bring your 


He found those people had already, arrived at their 
chief's. And he pressed on after them, and on arrival he 
sat down and the chief said : " Give that person some 
water." But the man refused to take water from a 
slave. Then the chief said : "As he refuses, let some good 
man take the water." And again he said : " Who will 
take water to that person ? " Then they said : " Bring 
out his wife." So they brought her out, gave her water, 
and said : " Take and carry it to your husband." She 
smiled and was pleased. And the man said : " Let us 
sit here under the tree until we return." So the woman 
sat down. Then the man said : " Kalundungoma, my 
wife ! " When it grew dark he asked his wife : " My 
wife, Kalundungoma, do you like being here ? " And the 
woman said : " I shall return home, I can't be a chief's wife." 
The man said : " Let us go." So that night when it was 
dark they made their escape. 

When he arrived at his village he went off to summon 
the Lions, saying : Those people must not come back here 
again. When the Lions arrived they sat down in the road 
so that those people should not return. Those Lions 
numbered six. 

Once again that chief sent his people, saying : "Go 
and fetch me my wife, the one whom I admired so." Then 
when the man saw the people sent by the chief — there were 
seventy of them — he sent the Lions, saying : " Do not 
spare them, eat them all, let them come to an end." On 
hearing that the Lions were glad and said : " We see meat ! ' 

Then they rushed upon them, scattered and finished 
them ; they spared one only. He returned to the chief 
and said : " By the ash ! oh chief, do not send people again : 
that man has summoned to his assistance sixty lions ! ' 

Then the chief abandoned his scheme, being afraid, and 
said : " All my people will be finished if I go on with it." 
So the man and his wife lived on happily. 

2. Kantanga and the Lions 

There was a Lion and a pregnant woman. Famine had 
entered the district. When the woman saw the Lions she 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 401 

said : " Oh you Lions, what meat have you ? " The lions 
answered : " We have got Nabunga meat." Then she 
said : " Yes, you have meat, give me some." And she 
added : "I have a child in my womb, and if you will give 
me meat, when the child is born I will give him to you ; 
when the famine is over vou shall fetch and eat him." 
Then the Lions gave her meat, saying : " Take and eat and 
live." Then she accepted the meat, took it home, and ate. 

The Lions waited as the days went by, and then set out ; 
on their arrival they said : " Where is our meat ? ' The 
woman answered : " He is over yonder — my child. His 
name is Kantanga ; go and call aloud : ' Kantanga ! ' " 
They shouted : " Kantanga ! * Your mother is calling you." 
Then Kantanga, as he had ivory bracelets on his arms, took 
them off and gave to his companions, one he gave a bracelet 
and to another another. 1 Then his friends said : " We 
are all of us Kantanga ! ' The Lions called, saying : 
" Youngster, Kantanga, come, your mother is calling you ! " 

Not rinding him the Lions went back in anger, and on 
arriving at the mother they fiercely said : ' We have not 
seen your child." Then she told them : " Hide there in 
the nut-patch, conceal yourselves under the nut-bushes." 
Then the woman called her child, saying : " Come here, 
Kantanga, namesake of my father, go into the nut-patch 
and bring me a pumpkin." Now her child had a play- 
spear in his hand, and he said to his companions : ' I am 
going to throw it yonder and spear the thing that is there." 
Thereupon he threw his toy-spear into the nut-bushes, but 
it was where a Lion was lying hiding, and he speared it 
with his toy-spear. Then the Lions ran away. On arriving 
where his mother was, she asked him : " Kantanga, where 
is the pumpkin I sent you for ? ' Kantanga answered : 
" Here it is." When the woman saw the pumpkin she 
was alarmed ; and she herself thought : ' ' Now the Lions 
will kill me when they return." 

The Lions came back. On their arrival they said : 
' Give us our meat." The woman answered : ' Go to the 

1 Kantanga is on the alert, fearing some danger. He tries to minimise 
it by making his friends as much like himself as possible — so that one may 
be taken in mistake for himself. 



water-hole, and when you get there, hide by diving into 
the water. When you are hid I will send him to fetch 
water, and just there you will catch him." Then she called 
her child, saying : " Kantanga, my child, I am thirsty, 
go and fetch me some water." Then she gave Kantanga 
the water-calabashes. When he came to a bush he called 
a Mason- Wasp, saying : " Mason- Wasp, go and fetch me 
water." The Mason- Wasp went and drew water for him. 
Then his mother was alarmed and said : " Where does he 
get this wisdom from ? 

After a time the Lions came out of the water and said : 
" That person is deceiving us. Her child that she said 
was coming to the water, what is he doing ? " Then they 
returned to the mother angrily, saying, let us eat the 
mother. On their arrival they said : " Our meat ! " The 
woman answered, saying : " My masters, do not kill me. 
Go and hide in the house." 

Then the woman put the Lions in the house and hid 
them in big water- jars and covered them up. Then she 
called him : " Kantanga, Kantanga ! " On his arrival, 
he said : " What do you call me for ? " His mother said : "I 
called you, my child, to give me a pot out of the house." 
Then Kantanga answered : " This little old woman beats 
us very much, and now she has her friends in the house, 
and she wants them to catch me." He went in ; as he 
was uncovering a pot they seized him, took him away, and 
tied him up in a bundle of grass. On arrival in their dis- 
trict they seized him, and, washing out a pot, put him 
therein, and after pouring water into the pot they put 
it on the fire. They said : " Tell the child of So-and-so, 
who survived Mr. Hare's consumption of his brothers, to 
come and stir up the fire." They went off hunting. 

Now when Kantanga felt the pot getting hot, he came 
out, and took from their child the fringed blanket he had 
on and clothed himself in it ; then he seized the lionet 
and put him into the pot. And then he himself sat down 
to stir up the fire. 

Late in the afternoon they came back from where they 
had gone to hunt. On their arrival they inquired : ' Is 
the meat cooked, child ? ' He answered : " It is cooked." 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 403 

Said they : " Bring it here." He took the pot off the fire 
and carried it to where they were. They proceeded to 
dish up, and when they had finished, they offered him a leg of 
the child, but he refused, saying : " No, dad, I don't eat 
cooked meat." When they had done eating, he escaped 
at dawn. In the morning the Lions looked about and 
called : " Where are you, orphan ? Come and give us 
water." They came to find all quiet in the place ; he had 
gone. Then they said : " That person cooked for us our 
own child, and as for him he won't return to his mother, 
but has gone to a foreign country." Indeed he had gone 
to another country, and had gone to live at Kapepe's 

Thereupon the Lions swiftly made their way to his mother, 
and on arrival said : " Where has your child gone to ? He 
went and killed our child for us." Then his mother 
answered : "I haven't seen him, my brothers, and if you 
keep on coming here always you will get into trouble." 
Then the Lions were afraid, and said : " This saying is true. 
If we keep on coming here always we shall find trouble." 
That's all. 

3. The Woman who married a Fish 

There was a woman who had no husband, and she said : 
" I wish I had a man to marry me." Then they told her : 
' As you want a husband, cut some small sticks and weave 
a fish-trap. When you have finished weaving it, go to 
the river. When you arrive set your trap in the river. 
Then you will kill a barbel. When you have killed it, 
bring it to the village. Then look for a large water- jar, 
put it in and cover it up. When you uncover it you will 
find it has become a human being, and so you will get a 
husband." The woman went off to catch a barbel. When 
she saw that the people had gone out of the village she went 
to uncover the pot, and looking into it saw that the barbel 
had become a man. Said he: " Do not cook me ; I am a man. 
And as you have no husband, marry me. And as for my 
food, I do not eat grain, I eat baboon's fruit. If you eat 
it also I shall go back to the water and you won't see me 
again." The woman agreed ; after a time she stole some of 


his fruit. When the man returned he examined his food 
and said : " My fruit is not all here. The woman has 
stolen some." Then he grew angry, saying : "As you 
have taken my food, I am going back into the water." 
Now next morning the woman took her hoe and left her 
husband in the village. When the woman came back from 
hoeing, on her arrival she uncovered the pot where her 
husband lived, and found that he had gone out of the pot. 
He said : "I am going back to my home as you ate my 
food." The woman said : " We will go together." When 
they arrived at the water the man went in. Said he : "I 
am going back. You, oh woman, will find other men." 
So he went alone into the water to his home. The woman 
watched and watched, but she never saw him again. 

Part IV 

Tales of People — mostly Fools 

i. The Little Old Woman who changed into a Maiden 

There was a little old woman who lived away among 
the fields. Long ago when the people had cattle they sent 
their children, saying: "Take the cattle into the plain, 
let them graze, and build yourselves a house." So they 
built a village. 

The people at that cattle-post were in the act of play- 
ing when that little old woman entered the house and stole 
out of Mbwalu's churn. Then when the cattle-post men 
returned and came' to look about they found there that 
little old woman. In her malice that little old woman, 
after stealing out of the churn, put into it a whole lot of 
fleas. When they arrived the cattle-post men said : " Who 
has done this ? " Others said : " It's yon little old woman." 
When the little old woman heard that she came back, and 
on arrival said : " Mbwalu has married me." Mbwalu said : 
" I am still a youngster, I cannot marry." But the little 
old woman stuck to it, saying : " You have married me." 
Then Mbwalu said : " No, I will not marry you because you 
purposely stole out of my churn." Wherever Mbwalu sat 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 405 

the little old woman followed him, saying : " You have 
married me." Then his comrades laughed at Mbwalu, 
saying : " You fool ! If you cry about it, shall we not 
kill the little old woman ? " Then they went off to the 
fields, to the elders their fathers. And the same little old 
woman went also to the village. They inquired : " What 
is the matter ? " Mbwalu answered, saying : "I shall kill 
that little old woman who sticks to me." So when the 
sun went down, Mbwalu went into one of the huts and the 
little old woman followed him. Next day the elders said : 
" Just marry the little old woman as she keeps on at it." 
So afterwards Mbwalu consented, and he went off crying 
into one of the huts. At night, when it was about to dawn, 
she that had been a little old woman was found to have 
changed into a pretty maiden. And after it dawned 
all the village came in some alarm, saying : "Is not that 
the little old woman who cried after you ? " Mbwalu 
answered, saying : "It is she." His comrades were con- 
founded then who had laughed at Mbwalu, saying : " You 
have married a little old woman." 

2. The Little Old Woman who killed a Child 

There was a little old woman who nursed a child. When 
the mother got up early to go to hoe, that little old woman 
said : " Bring your child and I will nurse it for you." The 
woman answered : " Take it and nurse it for me so that I 
can hoe easily." When the woman left off work, she called 
the little old woman, saying : " Little old woman, my 
child ! ' The woman came quickly and said to the mother : 
' To-morrow you can bring your child again and I will 
nurse it for you." 

The woman went back to her home and slept. Next 
morning she rose early and on arrival called : " Little old 
woman ! " The little old woman answered : " Hallo ! " 
When she arrived she gave her the child. On arrival at 
her village the little old woman passed through to where 
the melons were — she went to get a melon. After getting 
the melon, she throttled the child, killed it, and having 
killed it put it into a pot. The arms of the child, which 


she had cut off, she attached to the melon, and she also 
fastened on the head to the melon. 

When the mother left off work she called, saying : ' Little 
old woman ! " Said she " Hallo ! Come here, here is your 
child." The child's mother declined, saying : " Bring me 
here my child, I want to go." The little old woman refused, 
saying : " Come here." So the mother went to the little 
old woman. On arrival there she said : " Now sit down 
in there." Then the little old woman took a basin and 
went to dish up ; she put a leg into the dish and took it to 
the mother. The woman took and ate, and asked : ' This 
) meat, what is it ? " The little old woman answered : "It 
J is young wart-hog. My husband killed it." Then she went 
back and fetched another leg. The mother did not refuse, 
but ate. When she had finished eating, she said : " Now 
bring my child, and let us go." Then the little old woman 
said : " Turn round, so that I can give you the child on 
your back." When the little old woman was putting it 
on the mother's back, the mother saw the melon fall down. 
The woman cried and said : " Little old woman, you have 
killed my child." Then the little old woman answered : 
" You ate my meat, we both ate it." 

Then the woman went off weeping to the village. On 
her arrival at the village the people laughed at her, saying : 
" You are a fool to go and give your child to a little old 
woman, and now you see she has eaten your child." Then 
they began to weep. 

3. The Foolish Woman who killed her Child 

A foolish woman bore a child, and after birth the child 
was always crying and crying, and then the woman said : 
" What's the matter with this child of mine ? ' The elder 
women told her : " That's how children cry." Now she, 
in the darkness of the night, wrung the child's neck, and 
said : "I have taken the thing out of my child's head 
that always made it cry." The elders asked her : ' In 
taking it out what did you do to the child ? " She said : 
" It is sleeping," whereas really it was dead. 

Next day her child was partly rotten, and the elders asked, 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 407 

saying : " To-day your child that is not seen, where has it 
gone to ? " The woman answered : " It's in the house, 
asleep." The. elders said : " Let us go and see it." That 
was an exceedingly foolish woman. As soon as they arrived 
she lifted the blanket from its face and said : " Here it is, 
it's asleep." Then when the elders entered and came to 
take the child, they said : " You are a fool ; you say your 
child is asleep, don't you see that it is rotten-dead ? You 
talk like that, but you killed it long ago." Thereupon the 
woman went out of the house swiftly and threw herself 
on the ground with grief. They said : " What do you 
throw yourself down for ? Didn't you yourself kill your 
child ? And now to-day you howl ! ' Then they said : 
" That girl is really a big fool ! " ^j, e 

4. The Fool that hunted for his Axe ^ *ty 

He put his axe on his shoulder. Nevertheless when he 
thought of his axe, he began to search for it ; beginning 
early in the morning he sought it. One day went by, and 
then his thoughts told him : " My axe is lost." He went 
seeking it everywhere where he had been walking about. 
All the time the axe was on his shoulder. When the people 
saw him they said : " What is that person looking for ? " 
He could not ask he was so busy searching. Next day one 
asked him : " What are you looking for ? Yonder where 
we were gathering fruit we saw you looking about." 

Then he said : "I am in great trouble." One answered : 
" What's troubling you ? " Said he : " My axe is lost." 
One said : " Have you two axes ? ' He said : ' No, only 
one." Then they said : ' What about the one on your 
shoulder, whose is that ? " He was greatly astonished 
and said : " I am a fool." 

And to this day it is put on record. When a person 
looks for a thing he has got, they say : " You are like yon 
man who looked for the axe that was on his shoulder." 

5. The Fool who cliopped himself 

Some men went hunting. While they were going about 
hunting the sun went down, and when it set they said : 


" Let us build a shelter." So they built a shelter, and 
having done so went to gather firewood. When it was 
dark they went to sleep. As they were sleeping, in the 
night one man got up and made a fire. When he had 
done making the fire, he went back to sleep. Another was 
lying asleep on his back with his knees sticking up in the 
air ; he slept very soundly. After a time he woke up, and 
when he looked he saw his knees and was very much alarmed. 
Said he : "Oh dear ! oh dear ! that lion is going to bite 
me!" Presently his thoughts said : " Take your axe, 
which you put near your head, and wound that lion before 
it bites you." So he reached out his hand towards the 
axe very carefully, on feeling about he found the axe, and 
then taking it in both hands he brought it down with all his 
force and chopped into his knee, and split it all to pieces. 
Then he set up a loud yell. One of his companions got up 
and asked him : " What's bitten you ? " He was astounded 
to see the axe fixed in his knee and he asked : " What have 
you done ? " Said he : " My thoughts are of foolishness. 
I saw the knee sticking up and I thought it was a lion, and 
now I have killed myself." 

And to this day if a man hurts himself or wounds himself 
with an axe or a spear, they say: "In your foolishness 
you are like yon man who wounded himself with an axe in 
the knee." 

6. The Fool who lay down and slept in the Road 

A traveller was passing to another district. When he 
reached a certain village he inquired, saying : " Where does 
this road lead to ? " They answered : " It goes there to the 
village." "Is it there where my relations come from?' 
The others answered : " Yes." " And is the road one 
only ? " They said : " No, there are two. You will go along 
some way, and when you reach the dividing of the road, 
take the one to the left ; turn aside, and take that one." 

He went on and when he arrived at the dividing of the 
roads, he lay down and slept. As he was sleeping and 
sleeping, next day some people passed by and found him 
asleep, and they said : "Is this man dead or alive, or what's 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 409 

the matter with him ? ' Then they roused him and found 
that on one side of him the termites had been building. 
They asked him : " Why do you sleep in the road ? ' 
Said he : "I slept because they said : when you get to the 
dividing of the road, take the one to the left, lie down, and 
leave the one to the right." Then those wise people asked 
him : " Which is the right and which is the left ? ' He 
answered, saying : "I do not know the roads." Then 
they told him : " This is the one to the right and this the 
one to the left." Then they said : " Come on, let us go." 

When they reached the village, to the people, they said 
to them : " This fool of a man whom you told the road, 
when he got to the dividing of the roads lay down to sleep 
as you said to him, when you reach the dividing of the 
roads turn aside." Now to this day they do not forget 
that man. Youngsters and children and adults say : ' That 
man was a fool." His fame went abroad in all the land : 
" That person was truly a fool. A fool who was told, ' When 
you reach the dividing of the roads turn aside {pinuka) 
and take the left,' and when he reached there he lay down 
{pinuka) and slept until the termites built on him. Foolish- 
ness indeed ! " 

7. The Fools who started Mourning when promised some 
Milk with their Bread 

On earth many, in the sky one only. Some men went to 
visit. On their arrival the people cooked bread for them. 
When they had done cooking the men ate, dipping it into 
gravy ; and their host said : " Eat, travellers. When 
you have done eating this you shall eat with milk." The 
travellers ate, and when they had eaten they took their 
spears and began to mourn by running up and down. 
The people were astonished, and said : ' What are these 
travellers mourning for ? " So they called them and 
asked : " What are you mourning for ? " They said : 
" We are mourning because you said, when you have done 
eating you will mourn." Then all were astonished and 
said : " We said that when you have finished eating the 
sop you can eat with milk. To eat with milk (kandila) is 


not to mourn (kudila). We said we would give you milk in 
which to dip your bread." 

Note : This tale, like the last, is founded on the likeness of words. 
They were told mukandile, " you will eat with milk," and they 
misunderstood it for mukadile, " you will mourn." 

There are Italian tales with similar motives. A man, for 
example, tells his wife to prepare dinner for a friend and to be sure 
to have broccoli strascinati and novi spersi as they are his favourite 
dishes. Strascinare is to drag anything along, but is technically 
used of broccoli chopped up and fried — the common Roman dish. 
Spergere is to scatter, but the word is used of eggs poached in 
broth, a favourite delicacy. The woman, taking the words literally, 
drags the broccoli all over the house and yard, and scatters the eggs 
all about the place instead of poaching them {Roman Folklore, 
pp. 366 sq.). 

8. The Fools who waited for Ground-nuts to fall from a Tree 

Two people were travelling, and midway along the road 
they found some nut-shells under a tree, and they sat down 
and watched, saying : " The nuts that were in these shells 
fell out of this tree." So they were sitting until the nuts 
should fall from the tree. After many days they were still 
sitting. Then some other people came along and said : 
" What are you doing here under the tree ? " " We are 
waiting for the ground-nuts to fall." Then they laughed 
at them and said : " You are fools. These are only shells 
left by people who ate the nuts." They laughed very much 
at them. 

And to this day they are a byword. When a person 
does a thing that is not right they liken him to those people 
who watched for shells. They say to him : " You are like 
yon people who when they found shells under the tree 
waited for nuts to fall out of the tree." To this day it is 
a well-known thing which does not come to an end. 

9. How Two Men had a Dispute 

Two men started off, one with a dog and the other with 
a pot. When they got into the veld he who had the dog 
killed an animal. He with the pot said : " Let us cook 
and eat." When they had done cooking they ate. Then 
the dog got into the pot to lick it out, and when he wanted 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 411 

to withdraw his head he stuck fast. The owner of the 
pot said : " Friend, my pot will be broken. Your dog is 
stuck fast in my pot. Come and take him out." The 
owner of the dog said : "I cannot manage the dog." 
' Well, as you cannot manage the dog, let us cut off his 
head so that it may come out of the pot." Said he : " You, 
my friend, which is more valuable, the dog or the pot ? 
Said he in answer : " My pot is the more valuable." Said 
he : " All right, cut away." So the owner of the pot took 
an axe and cut the dog's head off. When he had cut off his 
head, he took his pot and found it was not broken, so he 
brought water and washed out the blood. When he had 
done washing it, he brought some string, tied it, put it on 
his shoulder, and went off to the village. And the owner of 
the dog went also to the village. 

When he arrived at the village, the owner of the dog 
found his child sick, and he thought : " Yon person who 
has the pot, his child took my brass bracelet." So he ran 
quickly and went where he was. On arrival he said : ' My 
friend, give me my bracelet." They called the girl, but 
the bracelet refused to come off her arm, for it had 
been put on long ago while she was yet a child, and 
now she was grown into a maiden. Said he : 'As it 
refuses to come off let us cut off the hand." Said he : 
" My friend, don't cut off the hand, let us rather give you 
another bracelet." That man said : ' I don't want an- 
other, this is my bracelet." " Which is of more consequence, 
the bracelet or the hand of the child ? ' That man refused, 
saying : "As for me it is my bracelet that I want." So 
the father of the child said : " Take an axe and cut off the 
hand." He cut it off and the bracelet came away. He 
took his bracelet, saying : " This is the hand of your child, 
join it up, and let us see how you will join it. You cut my 
dog's head off." He took the bracelet and went to divine for 
his child who was sick. When he reached the diviner, 
the oracle said : " Dig up some medicine and your child 
will recover." He came back and dug the medicine, gave 
it to her, and she recovered. 

f6 gri 


10. The Scold who split her Mouth 

There was once a woman named Mukamunkomba and 
she was a scold, always finding fault with everybody. In 
particular she would never allow people to talk, but always 
stopped them. She was always the same, railing and nag- 
ging. Now in those old days she was nursing two of her 
daughter's children : they were young and were always 
disputing with each other, as is the way of children. The 
old woman so surpassed herself in nagging those children, 
her own grandchildren, that her mouth split. And so they 
have put her on record as a warning, and when they hear 
any one nagging they say : " Beware, you will split at the 
mouth as old Mukamunkomba did with her railing. If you 
have to find fault with any one, do it once only ; don't 
keep on at it." 

11. The Man and the Mushrooms 

There was once a great famine in the land and many 
people were dying with hunger. A certain woman found 
some mushrooms and filled her pot with them and water. 
The husband was looking on and noticed that the pot was 
quite full when it was put on the fire to boil. He went out, 
and on his return shortly after the woman took the pot 
off the fire and set it between his legs. Now the man said : 
' The pot is not full. Where are the rest ? ' So he began 
to hint that she had helped herself to them in his absence. 
" I saw the pot full," said he, " now it is half empty." The 
woman said : " But, my husband, don't mushrooms shrink 
when cooked ? " But he wouldn't have it. " You're 
lying," he said. " Well," she went on, " if they haven't 
shrunk, where are they ? ' " You have eaten them," 
said he. His wife replied : " No, my husband, I couldn't 
eat the food in your absence." But the man got very 
angry and said to her : " You are a bad woman. You 
stole the mushrooms while I was away." The woman 
denied, saying : "I did not steal. They shrank in the 
boiling," but he took a stick and beat her to death. Then 
he told the people that his wife had died of starvation. As 

ch. xxvin FOLK-TALES 413 

he had no other wife, he had to fend for himself. One day 
he brought home some mushrooms and filled that same 
pot his dead wife had used. He sat there and watched it 
boil, and when he took it off the fire saw that the mushrooms 
had so shrunk that there was hardly anything left at the 
bottom of the pot — that pot which had been full to over- 
flowing. The man was greatly startled. He began to 
tremble and cry : ' Oh dear ! oh dear ! This pot which 
I filled with mushrooms and now they have shrunk away ! 
I killed my wife without reason. She did not steal ; the 
mushrooms did shrink as she said. Dear ! oh dear ! I 
am the child of a foreigner ! " 

Since that day they have put him on record as an 
example. Do not be in a hurry to accuse people of stealing. 

12. The Bogle and his Child 
(Told to frighten children.) 

There was once a bogle named Shezhimwe who married 
a woman, and in course of time a baby was born to them. 
All the neighbours rejoiced with them, and the child flourished 
and grew big. Before it was weaned the mother left it 
one day in charge of Shezhimwe while she went to work 
in the field, and the bogle, when he found himself alone 
with his child and the mother far away, ate the child and 
made tracks. The mother left off work later in the day 
and returning home sought her child, and sought in vain. 
While she was wondering what had become of it, her husband, 
the bogle, suddenly reappeared, and she said to him : 
' Shezhimwe, bring the child for its food." The bogle 
began to be astonished, clapped his hands in amazement, 
and said : " What child do you mean ? ' The woman 
replied : " Why, to be sure, the same child I left with you 
when I went to work this morning." Said the bogle : "I 
laid him down on the bed. I wonder who could have eaten 
him ? ' They hunted all about, but no child could be 
found. They gave up the search at last and the mother 
had to reconcile herself to the fact that her child was lost. 
Some time later another child was born in that house, 
and all Mrs. Shezhimwe's friends rejoiced with her again. 


But not many days after, while, the woman was gone to the 
other side of the village, Shezhimwe, in whose charge she 
left the child, ate it in a moment and went out. Presently 
she came back, and not seeing her husband, called him 
loudly : " Shezhimwe ! Shezhimwe ! Bring the child to 
drink." The bogle made no reply, but soon came in as 
if nothing had happened, and said to her : " Was it you 
calling ? ' " Yes," she answered, " bring the child I left 
with you, it's time for it to drink." Said Shezhimwe : 
" Why, I left the child only a moment ago, where can it 
have gone ? " Then the woman lost her temper and 
cried out : " No, that won't do. Just you produce my 
child. I would like to know how the children get lost that 
are left in your hands." Shezhimwe had no excuse to 
make ; he remained silent. They wept for the child, and 
afterwards the woman went to her own home and told her 
parents all about it. They comforted her and said : ' Go 
back to your husband. The child will return to you : and 
when it is to be born come home here." So the woman 
went back to her husband the bogle. Later on, she made 
her escape and went home again. Shezhimwe, seeing that 
she had gone, followed her. They saluted him politely did 
his wife's people, and cooked food for him. When he had 
finished eating they seized and killed him. After killing 
him they burnt him in the fire, and out of the fire there 
came a great whirlwind. That was really a bogle — and he 
is still alive and on the look-out for naughty children. 

13. Tale of an Expectant Mother's Fancies 

(Told as a warning to such women.) 

There was once a woman in the family way who would 
not eat porridge and refused all food offered to her. One 
day she called her husband. " Yes, wife," said he, " what 
do you want ? " "I want some bird's eggs ; all this bread 
and other food I can't eat." The husband answered : "Very 
well, my wife, but to get eggs is not easy. Where can I 
get bird's eggs ? " Said she : "Go and hunt in the birds' 
nests and find some." So the husband consented to go 
searching for eggs, and came back with some, which the 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 415 

woman ate — all of them. Next day the man and his son 
went out again ; they saw two birds and a nest in a tree 
and the man climbed up and got the eggs. Now in that 
tree there was a snake, and though the man did not see it 
the boy who was on the ground did, and seeing it called 
out, " Father, there is a snake there, look out." The man 
in his fright fell — and with him the basket of eggs, which, 
fortunately, did not break. They returned home, and the 
woman received the eggs and said " Thank you." The boy 
said : " Mother ! " " Well, child, what do you say ? " 
" I say, do not eat all these eggs at once. It is a great 
trouble to go climbing trees, and besides there are snakes. 
Father was nearly bitten to-day." But the woman cooked 
and ate all the eggs that evening, and in the morning 
clamoured for more. So the husband went out again, this 
time alone, for the boy stayed at home. After searching 
for some time he found a nest with eggs in it, and climbing 
the tree put them in his basket. But hidden in a hole in that 
tree was a mulala snake, and just as the man was descending 
it bit him. The man fell and died in a few minutes. It 
was away in the forest and there was nobody to take the 
news. After sunset when he did not come, the boy grew 
anxious and said to his mother : " Mother, I believe father 
is dead." Then the woman began to recall her son's warn- 
ing not to eat all the eggs at once, because of the trouble and 
danger involved in getting them. In the morning they 
went out to search and found him at the foot of the tree. 
He was stone dead and stank horribly already. The woman 
bereft of her husband died also. 

14. A Man and his Mother 

A man and his mother were once in great difficulty for 
food, and were reduced to going about from village to 
village begging. After a time they went to live on an 
island in the river and there they were still worse off. They 
did not know how to rind food. At last the woman said to 
her son : "Go and wander about among the villages, and 
when you find an ox bring it here." The man went off, 
and finding some cattle grazing he drove off one and brought 


it to the river. Now the old woman had medicine, and 
when the man reached the river he called to her, saying : 
" Mother, strike the water ! ' The mother took her 
medicine root and with it smote the water so that the man 
and ox passed over dry-shod and then the river flowed on. 
The man killed the ox, cut it up, and giving his mother a 
bit of a bone ate the rest with his wife. The mother made 
no fuss, but kept quiet. When the meat was finished he 
went to another place and stole an ox, but the herdsmen 
saw him and gave chase. He reached the river first with 
the ox and called to his mother as before : " Mother, 
strike the water ! " The woman smote the water ; the 
river divided allowing them to pass, and then joined up 
again. Once again the man killed and cut up the ox and 
threw his mother a bone. Now she said to him : " My son, 
you bring home an ox and eat all the meat with your wife 
and to me you give only a bone. I your mother see your 
doings ! " The man got angry and said to her : " That's 
the way with you old women, you are never grateful for 
what you are given." His mother said no more. Not long 
after the man went off to a place some distance away, 
where the news of his thievery had not reached, and there 
he found many cattle. He drove off two. The people saw 
him, raised an alarm, and chased him to the river. There he 
called his mother as before : " Mother, strike the river ! ' 
But his mother answered : "I will not strike it because 
you wouldn't give me any meat." And the villagers coming 
up killed him. 

15. The Child who wanted to sleep in the Middle 
(Told to warn men against ignorant children.) 

A man took his child with him hunting in the veld. 
There the boy set four traps by the side of a pool while his 
father looked for game. They were by themselves — those 
two, no third. The boy presently caught a guinea-fowl in one 
of his traps and went off to the shelter he and his father 
had built in the veld. He found there his father, who had 
returned unsuccessful, and was therefore glad to see the 
guinea-fowl brought by his son. The boy said : " Father ! ' 

ch. xxvni FOLK-TALES 417 

The man replied : " What do you say, namesake of my 
father ? " "I say, cook this guinea-fowl and eat it alone ; I 
won't eat it, no, no. And to-night when we sleep put me 
in the middle." The father answered nothing : he thought 
the boy was only playing by talking about being put in the 
middle. When the fowl was cooked the man called the 
boy and said : " Namesake of my father, come and let us 
eat the guinea-fowl you killed, it's already cooked." But 
the boy said : " Eat it alone, father, as I told you before. 
But when we sleep put me in the middle, because I do not 
wish to sleep on the outside for fear of being bitten by 
some wild beast in the night." So the father ate the guinea- 
fowl by himself. . Presently the boy said : " Father, have 
you done eating ? " " Yes, namesake of my father, I have 
done." Said the child : ".As you have done eating, let us 
sleep." The father replied : " Right, namesake of my 
father, let us sleep." They went into the shelter and the 
man lay down first. Then his child asked him : " Where 
am I to lie, Dad ? " " Wherever you please, namesake of 
my father." " Where I like," said the child, " is in the 
middle." " How can I put you in the middle ? " replied 
the man, " I am only one person." But the child began 
to cry, sitting on the ground. Presently his father got up 
and tied a bundle of grass and laid it on one side of the 
bed, then took hold of the child's hand and said : ' Come 
sleep here in the middle as you wished." The child lay 
down, but as he was falling asleep he touched the thing 
by his side and found it was not a person but only grass. 
He got up and began to cry. His father was fast asleep. 
Then the boy took his father's spear — it was an iyonga, with 
a blade, broad and long and sharp — a spear that a man 
takes to tackle a wart-hog. He sharpened it on a stone 
and then lifting it in two hands he brought the point down 
with all his strength upon his father's stomach, cutting 
him open. He did not think of his father dying, but he 
died. And the child died too : he died of fright. 

Sed nos immensum spatiis confecimus aequor, 
Et iam tempus equum fumantia solvere colla. 



Note. — The following lists are not indexed in detail 

Names of chiefs, i. 57 sq. 

Foods and drinks, i. 149 sqq. 

Parts of human body, i. 222 sq. 

Diseases and remedies, i. 232 sqq., 275 sqq. 

Clans, etc., i. 310 sqq. 
Communities, i. 313^^. 
Tables of relationship, i. 323 sqq. 
Games, ii. 246 sqq. 

Abduction, of wife, i. 404 

Abortifacients, i. 250, 419, ii. 40 

Abortion, when induced, i. 250, 419 ; 
purification after, ii. 6 ; disease caused 
by, i. 234. See Feticide 

Accusations, false, i. 371 

Adultery, ii. 72 sqq., i. 302, 352, 359, 
404, 418 

Adzes, i. 219 

Affinity, relations by, i. 338 sqq. 

Afterbirth, how removed, ii. 8 sq. ; dis- 
posal of, ii. 10 ; of twins, disease 
caused by, i. 276 

Age, Ba-ila age quickly, i. 61 ; how told, 
i. 62 

Age-grades (mu-sela, mi-), i. 308 sq. 

Agriculture, methods of, i. 135 sqq. 

Amulets (ch-inda, sh-), i. 250 sqq. See 

Ancestors of Ba-ila, i. 20. See Divini- 

Anderson, Mr. , i. 54 

Angoni, raid Basodi, i. 44 

Animals, wild, in Bwila, 1. n sqq. ; list 
of, eaten, i. 150 

Anopheles, mosquito, i. 11, ii. 225 sq. 

Ant, Mr., the diviner, ii. 389, 396 

Ant-bear, tale of, ii. 365 

Ants, kinds of, ii. 226 ; nest of, as 
remedy, i. 236 

Aphrodisiacs, i. 2495^., ii. 35, 67 

Arab slave-traders, i. 33 sq. , 39 

Armlets, i. 101 sq. ; filled with drugs, i. 


Arnot, F. S. , cited, i. 26 ?i. 

Arson, i. 403 

Ash (itwe), named in oaths, i. 355 ; held 
sacred, i. 370 ; thrown on person, 
'• 37°. 399. 4° 2 . 4 11 > used as remedy, 
i. 237, 243 ; in witchcraft, ii. 93 ; 


mounds of (mu-kwashi, mi-), i. 129 ; 

at funerals, ii. 109, 111 
Attitudes, i. 81 sqq. 
Aunt, i. 319 

Avoidance, between relations, i. 338 sqq. 
Axes, i. 106, 218 sq. ; divining with, i. 

269 sq. 

Babizhi, " the southern people," i. xxvi 
Baboons, in tale, ii. 349 ; clan of, i. 

3 11 
Bachikundi, raid Bambala, i. 44 
Ba-ila, name of, i. xxv sq. ; = freemen, 

i. 299 ; numbers of, i. 15, 313 sqq. 
Baila-Batonga Mission, i. 29, 54 
Bakaundi, history of, i. 27 
Bakubi (clan), turn into matoshi, i. 289 
Bakwe, i. 340 
Balamba, clans, i. 313 

brothers-in-law," i. 339 sq. 
. 66 
Rev. A., 

1. 39 n., 54, 11. 

25 sq., 40, 



Balea, i. 28 
Baluba, i. xxvii 
Balui, i. 25 
Balumbu ( = foreigners) 

nzela people), i. xxvii, 34 sqq. 
Balumbwa mountain, i. 9 
Balundwe, i. xxvi 
Bama (=my mothers), i. 319 
Bambala, " the northern people," i. 

3, 8, 44, 70, j-j, 79, etc. 
Bambo, "the western folk," i. xxvi 
Bambwe, list of chiefs of, i. 57 
Bambwela, i. 25, 27, 105 (photo), 

Banangu ( = my children), i. 320 sq. 
Bangles, ivory, i. 101 sq. , 180 sq. 
Bantuba, i. 25 

19 2 E 2 

3 J 3 

( = Na- 




Barotsi, i. 31 sq. , 41, 52 

Basala, i. xxvi, 3; (= prophets), ii. 140 

Bashamba, i. xxvii, 313 (clans) 

Bashituchila, i. 32 

Bashukulompo = Mashukulumbwe = Ba- 
ila, i. xxv, 39 

Baskets, kinds of and making, i. 187 sqq. 

Basodi, i. xxvii, 44 

Basubia, i. xxvii, ii. 277 

Batonga ( = Batoka), i. xxvii, 28 

Batwa, i. xxvi, 6 sq. , 29, 92 

Bazhile (sisters-in-law), i. 339 

Beans, use in iron-smelting, i. 205 

Beard, on older men, i. 63 ; in state of 
taboo, i. 63 

Beauty, ideas of, i. 112, 127 sq., ii. 45 

Beer, kinds and preparation of, i. 149 ; 
when drunk, i. 203, ii. 20, 57, 174 
sq. , 189 sqq. , 194 ; when offered, i. 389, 
ii. 178, 194 ; when taboo, i. 238, 349 

Bees, ii. 227 

Beetles, ii. 227 

Bellows, i. 211 sq. 

Benelubulo, clan of, i. 219 

Bene-mashi (founders of the communi- 
ties), i. 21 

Bergson, quoted, ii. 3125^. 

Bestiality, ii. 75 

Betrothal, ii. 46 sqq. 

Birds, profusion of in Bwila, i. 14 sq. ; 
list of, eaten, i. 151 

Birth, customs and taboos, ii. 7 sqq. ; 
illegitimate, ii. 39 sq. 

Birth-name, i. 365, ii. 153 

Black, unlucky, i. 207, 252, 261 sq. 

Blacksmithing, i. 211 sqq. 

Blood (buloa), uncanny, i. 414 sq.; eaten, 
i. 145 ; connected with pain, i. 230 
sq. ; offering (luloa, q.v. ), ii. 187, etc. 

Blood-brotherhood, i. 308 

Blue-jay (chikambwe), feathers of, a sign 
of valour, i. 106 ; causes disease and 
death, i. 240, ii. 87 ; in tale, ii. 347 

Body-odour, i. 94 

Bogeys, ii. 17 

Bone-setting, i. 276 

Boundaries, i. 387 ; disease caused by 
trespassing upon, i. 237 

Bows and arrows, i. 153, 154 (photo) 

Bracelets, i. 101 

Brains, i. 225 ; of hare used as remedy, 
i. 241 sq. 

Bribes, i. 360 

British South Africa Company ( = Govern- 
ment), i. 54 sq. ; effects of its rule, i. 
55. 354 ! attitude to slavery and other 
customs, i. 412, ii. 75 

Broken Hill, cave at, i. 17 

Brothers, how addressed, i. 317 

"Brothers-in-law" (mu-lamu, ba- ), i. 


Buckenham, Rev. H., i. 54 

Budinjidizhi, i. 403 

Buditazhi, meaning of, i. 346 ; vilifica- 
tion reckoned as, i. 374 ; perjury as, 
i. 355 ; false accusation as, i. 357 ; 
offences against property as, i. 392 
sqq. , 402 sqq. ; accident in bed as, 
i. 394 ; assaulting woman in sleep as, 
ii. 74; other offences, i. 370 sqq. , 
395, 402 sq. , 420, ii. 5, 62; divinity 
maybe guilty of, ii. 166 ; not possible 
against fellow-clansman, i. 393, 415 ; 
nor by slave against master, i. 393 

Building, methods of, i. 114 sqq. 

Bullets, iron, i. 214 

Bulongo, arch-demigod, ii. 192 sqq. 

Bunga, war with Lubanda, i. 23 

Burglary, i. 393 

Busangu, i. 50, 52 

Bushbuck, in tale, ii. 366 

Butter, i. 130 ; used to anoint corpse, ii. 

Bwanga, i. 252 ; = content, ii. 89 

Bwengwa, i. 29, 41 sq., 44 

Bwengwa-Leza, rock at Namwala, i. 21 

Bwila (= country of the Ba-ila), i. xxv; 
description of, i. 3 sq. ; fauna and 
flora of, i. 9, n sqq. 

Calendar, i. 140 

Calvarium, used as drinking - cup, by 
Barotsi, i. 42 ; by Balumbu, i. 35, 

Cameron, V. L. , cited, i. 26 n., 33 n. 

Canoes, making of, i. 200 

Cases in magistrates' courts, quoted : 
accusation of witchcraft, i. 371 sq. ; 
loss of property, i. 394, 402 ; damage 
to property, i. 394 ; kushisha claims, 
i. 396 ; injuries, i. 396 ; inheritance, 
i. 397 ; trespass, i. 402 ; theft, i. 402 ; 
recovery of person, i. 404 ; compensa- 
tion, i. 406; marriage, chiko, etc., 
ii. 49, 51 sqq., 70, 73 

Cassava, i. 140, 148 

Castor-oil plant, seeds of, used as remedy, 
i. 242 ; as charm, i. 278 ; in and 
after child-birth, ii. 8, 10 ; root, as 
abortifacient, i. 250 

Castration of cattle, i. 130 

Cattle, great number of, raided by 
Barotsi, i. 50 ; love for, i. 127 ; 
named and ornamented, i. 128 ; 
marked, i. 128 ; milked, i. 129 ; 
breeds of, i. 129 ; numbers of, i. 130 ; 
diseases of, i. 132 ; mourning for, 
132 sq. ; when killed, i. 130, 178, i 
25 sq. , 187; killed at funerals, 
130, 306, ii. 106, no ; killed by lions, 
i. 158 ; cases about, i. 386 

Celibacy, how regarded, ii. 64 



Centipede, ii. 224 

Ceremony, at iron-smelting, i. 205 ; of 
Lubambo, ii. 68 ; when moving vil- 
lage, ii. 178 ; harvest, ii. 179 sq. 

Chaka, the Zulu Napoleon, i. 28 

Chameleon, ii. 100 sq., 228 

Chapman, Rev. W. , i. 54; quoted, ii. 
31, 114 sq. ; cited, i. 54 n. ; photos 
by, i. 8, 80, 118, ii. 327 

Charcoal, making of, i. 206 

Charms (see Medicine), classified, i. 250 
sq. ; trust in, i. 252 ; how carried, 
i. 253 ; village and communal, i. 254 ; 
taboos associated with, i. 255 

Cheetah, tale of, ii. 369 

Chest (thorax), seat of thought, i. 225 

Chia, ii. 136 

Chiawala (woman's belt), i. 101 

Chidizho, ii. no 

Chiefs, list of ancient, i. 21, 57 sq. , ii. 
181 (demigods); selection of, i. 299 sqq. ; 
labours of, i. 124 sq. ; duties and 
privileges of i. 305, 307 ; apportions 
land, i. 387 ; medicines of, i. 260, 
300 sq. , 307 ; in council, i. 351 sq. ; 
assault on, i. 413 ; authority of, 
undermined, i. 354 ; right to the 
bukome, i. 384 ; right to the ground 
tusk, i. 385 

Chifwembe, list of chiefs at, i. 57 

Chigoe (jigger), i. 121, 243, ii. 226 

Chiko, misnamed "bride-price," i. 298, 
ii. 49 ; secures usufruct of wife's body, 
i. 384 ; amount and collection and 
payment of, i. 298 ; disputes about, 
ii. 48 sqq. ; for heiress of deceased 
wife, i. 391 ; for slave, i. 409, ii. 64 

Chikomo ( = sacred custom, etc.), ii. 186 

Chikuto (= curse), i. 416 

Children, desire for, ii. 1 ; life of, ii. 
13 sq. ; mortality of, ii. 13 sqq. ; duties 
of, ii. 15 ; punishment of, ii. 17 ; 
taboos imposed upon, ii. 17 sq. ; 
games of, ii. 242 sqq. ; diseases of, 
i. 235 sqq. ; killed, i. 419 sqq. ; buried 
alive, ii. 114; suicide of, i. 421; 
when not mourned for, i. 420, ii. 106 ; 
when not buried, ii. 114 ; establishing 
identity of, ii. 152 

Chimbulamukoa, attacked, i. 40 ; cattle 
from, i. 106 

Chinao=Ushibandilwabana, i. 239 sq. , 
ii. 12, 86 

Chins, i. 61 

Chipo (present to woman), i. 410, ii. 69 

Chisapi (indecorum), i. 346 ; acts of, 

>• 367. 374 
Chisosoleke, list of chiefs at, i. 57 
Chishonsho, i. 391, ii. 60 sqq. 
Chisolo (a game), ii. 182, 232 sqq. 
Chisungu, ii. 25, 41 

Chivalry, i. 175 

Chiyadila, war between, and Nyambo, 
i. 24 

Chundu, fabulous land in East, ii. 103 

Churns, i. 130, 131 (photo) 

Cicatrisation, i. 96 

Circumcision, practised by Mankoya, i. 94 

Clans (mukoa mi-), i. 287 sqq. ; 
totemistic, i. 287 ; list of, i. 310 sqq. ; 
general rule for descent, i. 294 sq. ; 
modified in case of chief, i. 304 ; 
descent through father, i. 296; instance 
of, ii. 193; various, specified, i. 20, 
219, 287 sqq., 294, 297, 417, ii. 
128, 130 sq. ; act in obtaining re- 
dress, i. 296 sq. , and in marriage, 
i. 296, ii. 50 ; secondary (kameko), 
i. 295 ; system falls hardly on indi- 
viduals, i. 404 ; legend of Banampongo, 
etc., i. 20 ; homicide an offence against, 
i. 414 ; and feticide, i. 419 

Classification of animals, ii. 224 ; of 
words, ii. 81, 304 

Classificatory system of relationship, 
i. 316 sq. 

Cleft-stick, jumping through, i. 415, 
ii. 87 

Climate, i. 9 

Clothing, i. 96 sqq. 

Coiffure. See Hairdressing, Isusu, 

Coillard, Rev. F. , quoted, i. 42, 44, 47 ; 
good influence of, i. 43 

Cold, endurance of, i. 89 

Colour of skin, i. 59 

Colours, ii. 230 

Comet, ii. 219 sq. 

Communities (or communes), i. 298 sqq. ; 
list of, i. 313 sqq. ; property of, i. 387 

Compass, points of,, ii. 122 

Conception, medicine to induce, i. 276 

Concubinage, ii. 64 

Coney, tale of, ii. 357 

Confiscation, as punishment, i. 359 

Conjurers, ii. 261 

Continence (relative or absolute), when 
practised, ii. 43 ; enforced on fishers, 
i. 169 ; on warriors, i. 176 ; on iron- 
smelters, i. 206 sq. ; on patients, i. 
231 sq., 261 ; on traders, i. 263 ; on 
husband and wife, ii. 4, 6, 12 

Conundrums, ii. 331 sqq. 

Cooking, where done, i. 143 ; methods 
of, i. 146 

Copper, ii. 222 ; as remedy, i. 243 

Corpse, preparation of, ii. 104, non. ; 
position of, ii. 105, 119 ; when burnt, 
ii. 115 ; addressed, ii. 105, izo-n., 118 

Cotton, Ila country adapted for, i. 8 ; 
grown, i. 140 ; thread of, i. 183 

Council of chiefs and headmen (lubeta), 



i. 299 ; to determine succession, i. 303 ; 

to judge cases, i. 351 
Courage, examples of, i. 158 sq. , ii. 188 
Cousins (cross- andortho-), terms applied 

to, i. 318 ; marriage of, i. 318 sq., 

ii. 41 
Covenant, of friendship, i. 295, 308 sqq. ; 

of blood brotherhood, i. 308 ; for 
'; exchange of wives, ii. 69 ; for lending 

wife, ii. 71 
Crawford, D. , i. 26 n. , ii. 364 
Crocodile, as good omen, i. 162 ; tale of, 

ii. 384 
Crops grown in Bwila, i. 7, 137, 140 
Cross-roads, rites performed at, i. 207, 

242- "• 135 

Crystal-gazing, equivalent for, i. 271 

Cunnum lingere, ii. 75 

Cupping, i. 230 

Currency, salt used as, i. 148 

Curses, attached to medicine and trans- 
ferred, i. 254 ; chikuto, i. 416. See 

Custom, the norm, i. 344 ; sanctions of, 
i. 344 ; established by Leza, i. 345, ii. 
211 ; relation of prophets to, i. 345 

Daffarn, M. A., photos by, i. 102, 103, 

104, ii. 271 
Dale, A. M., takes charge of Ba-ila, i. 55. 

See Preface 
Damage to property, i. 394 sq. 
Damages, awarded, i. 359, 394 ; claimed, 

i'- 39. 7°. 72 

Dances, Dancing, ii. 270 sqq. ; Mwandu, 
ii. 22 ; Kashimbo, ii. 20 ; Chululu, 
ii. 24 ; Busala, ii. 137 sq. ; others, 
ii. 29 ; at funerals, ii. 111 ; by warlock, 
ii. 92 

Day, how divided, ii. 215 sq. 

Deafness, i. 224 

Death, origin of, ii. 100^. ; living after, 
•i. 265, ii. 103 ; inflicted as punishment, 

i- 358 
Defaecation, position of, i. 83 ; in bed, 

i- 394 
Delirium, caused by ghosts, i. 245 
Demigods (mu-zhimo, mi-), i. 21, 178, 

ii. 180 sqq. ; list of ii. 181. See 

Demoniacs, ii. 137 
Depilation, kudimensa, i. 65 ; kunyo- 

nkola, ii. 25, 30, 48, 55, 59 
Dinkas, compared with Ba-ila, i. 16 
Discretion, ii. 315 
Diseases, list of, i. 231 sqq. ; how caused, 

i. 244 sq. ; in cattle, i. 132; how got 

rid of from pumpkins, i. 139 ; diagnosis 

of, i. 268 
Divination, methods of, i. 265 sqq. 
Diviners (mu-sonzhi, ba-), i. 265 sqq. ; 

when consulted, i. 228, 356, 365, ii. 

152, 166, i68\ 175, 177 
Divinities (mu-zhimo, mi-), ii. 164 sqq. ; 

hear only their own family, i. 293, 

ii. 165 ; as intermediaries, ii. 208. 

See Demigod, Ghost, Offerings 
Divorce, property divided in, i. 381 ; 

grounds of, ii. 51 
Doctors (mu-nganga, ba-), i. 272 sqq. ; 

fees of, i. 256, 275 ; claims of, i. 392, 

395 ; in iron-smelting, i. 203 sqq. ; in 

fishing, i. 161 ; proverb about, ii. 317 ; 

buditazhi offence against, i. 395 
Dogs, i. 134 ; in hunting, i. 153 ; in 

ordeal, i. 356 ; given meat at funerals, 

ii. no 
Dolls, ii. 23 (photo) 
Doorway, i. 119 sq. ; ghosts near, ii. 

122 sq. ; medicine placed at, i. 278, 

301; offerings at, ii. 166; "altar" 

at, ii. 173 
Dovecotes, i. 134, ii. 355 
Dragon (mulala), ii. 229, 379 
Dreams, ii. 134.^. ; medicines revealed 

in, i. 230, 253 
Drum-signals, ii. 188, 268 
Drums, i. 198, ii. 265 sqq. ; mwandu, 

ii. 24, 266 ; beaten at milking, 

i. 129 ; beaten bukadi, i. 178 ; beaten 

kunzuma, ii. 138; beaten kutambausha, 

ii. 267 
Duiker, in tale, ii. 360 
Dung, cattle, causes disease, i. 240 ; of 

lizards and hyenas used as medicines, 

i. 232, 240, 242 
Dwarfs, in the East, ii. 218 
Dynamism, ii. 79 sqq. 

Earache, i. 224 

Earee, C. E. , photos by, i. 90 sq. , ii. 

Ears, i. 61 ; perforated, i. 96 
Earthquake, ii. 221 
East, ghost goes, ii. 119 ; race of dwarfs 

in, ii. 218. See Chundu 
Eating, ways of, i. 124 ; times and 

rules for, i. 145 ; "eating the name," 

i. 168, 390; "eating" medicine, 

i. 253; "eat the marriage," ii. 56; 

' ' eating " the woman = cunnum 

lingere (q.v. ) 
Eggs, seldom eaten, i. 145 
Egyptian ideas of soul, ii. 161 
Eland, ceremony after killing, ii. 87 
Elephant, annual migration of, i. n ; 

rites on cutting up, i. 167 ; right to 

carcase and tusks of, i. 384 sq. ; in 

tales, ii. 358, 361, 363, 394 
Ellenberger, D. F. , cited, i. 28 n. 
Epilepsy, i. 239 
Etiquette, rules of, i. 361 sqq. 



Excrement, as medicine, i. 232, 240, 242 ; 

causes disease, i. 240 ; throwing a 

person upon, i. 371 
Exposure of person, i. 82 ; deliberate, 

i. 416 
Expression of emotions, i. 83 
Expressions, rude, i. 377 sq. 
Eyes, pupils of, i. 224 ; colour of, i. 60 ; 

hiding "life" in, i. 256 
Eyesight, i. 89 sq. ; ideas of, i. 224 

Faeces, an offence to mention, in mixed 

company, i. 377 
False accusations and witness, i. 371 
Family, i. 283 sqq. 
Fashions, i. 102 sq. 
Fatalism, ii. 62, 202, 322 
Fauna, i. 11 sq. 

Feathers, significance of, i. 104 sqq. 
Fees, doctor's, i. 256, 275 ; diviner's, i. 

Festivals, Feasts, annual (i-kubi, ma-), 

ii. 189, 193 ; funeral (i-dilwe, ma-), 

ii. 106, 174 sq. ; cattle, i. 131 sq. ; 

initiation, ii. 20, 25 
Feticide, i. 418 
Fibres, i. 184 sqq. 
Fillet (mu-shini, mi-), worn by women, i. 

Fines inflicted, i. 359 
Fire, in cattle kraal, i. 129 ; made by 

friction, i. 142 sq. , ii. 30; how con- 
veyed, i. 143 ; taboos, i. 142 sq., 210; 

new, i. 235, ii. 27, 60, 62 ; funeral, ii. 

96 sq. 
Fireflies, ii. 226 

Firstfruits, i. 139^. \) .)' Cf—'\ 
Fish, names of, i. 151, 160 ;' abundance 

of, i. 144, 159 sq. ; how cooked, i. 

147 ; traps, for, i. 161 sq. ; nets, i. 

163, 186; poisons, i. 166; spear, 

making of, i. 213 sq. 
Fish-eagle, tales of, ii. 370, 391 
Fish-hooks, i. 160 
Fishing, methods of, i. 159 sqq. ; rites 

before, i. 388 sq. 
Flies, ii. 225 
Flying-people, ii. 230 
Foetus, formation of, i. 227 ; buried, i. 

234 ; disease and, i. 234 sq. 
Folk-tales, ii. 334 sqq. 
Fontanelle, non-closing of, i. 243 ; heart- 
beating at, i. 226 ; medicine applied 

to, ii. 11 
Foods, formalities connected with, i. 364 ; 

staple, i. 144 ; preserved, i. 148 ; list of, 

i. 149 sqq. 
Footsteps, to trace, i. 260 
Fowls, domestic, i. 134 
Frazer, Sir J., i. 291, 292 ?/., ii. 100 
Friendship, covenants of, i. 295, 308 

Frogs, ii. 228 

Fruits, names of, i. 150 

Funeral, description of, ii. 104 sqq. , 114 ; 

feasts, ii. no sq. ; oxen killed at, i. 

130 ; when corpse is not recovered, ii. 

116 ; of suicides, ii. 116 ; of a stranger, 

ii. n6 • 

Game pits, i. 157 sq. 

Games, ii. 232 sq. ; indavu, ii. 21 sq. ; 

mantombwa, ii. 36 sqq. ; mimic fight, 

i. 172 sq. 
Genitalia, names for, i. 223 ; seat of 

vitality, i. 226 ; diseases of, i. 238 ; 

when not spoken of, i. 377 ; named 

in songs, i. 208, ii. 113 ; distension 

and enlargement of, ii. 5,17, 20, 30 ; 

admired, ii. 45 
Genius (Guardian Spirit), i. 54, ii. 156 

sqq., 165 
Gestation, period of, ii. 7 
Ghosts (mu-sangushi, ba-), where they 

go, ii. 119; underground, ii. now., 

119 ; near graves and in houses, ii. 

120 sqq. ; near doorways, ii. 122 ; in 
the matongo, ii. 123, 186 ; enter 
living persons, ii. 136 ; doings of, ii. 
122, 132 ; speak through mediums, 
ii. 140 sq. ; in divination, i. 270 sq. ; 
act as witch-familiars, ii. 91, 95, 132 ; 
act as guardians, i. 388 ; come in 
dreams, ii. 134 sq. ; reveal medicines, 
i. 230, 253 ; disease caused by, i. 235, 
244 sq. , ii. 27; visible to animals, ii. 
122 ; attitude towards, ii. 167 sqq. ; 
offerings to, ii. 123 ; various kinds of, 
ii. 132 ; vengeful (mutalu), i. 264 ; 
harmful, ii. 115, 168 ;' driven off, i. 
179, ii. 163 ; medicine to stupefy, i. 
264 ; of elephants, i. 168 ; tale of, ii. 
133. See Divinities 

Gibbon, quoted, i. 22 

Gibbons, A. St. H., explorations of,* i. 
54 ; his opinion of the Ba-ila, i. 54, 

Gielgud, Mr. , i. 54 

Gift, taken with both hands, i. 364 

Gingivitis, i. 66 sqq. 

Girdle, woman's, i. 101 ; cutting the, ii. 
60, 62 

Goats, i. 134 

God. See Leza 

Grain, kinds of, i. 139 sq., 149 ; proven- 
ance of, i. 139 

Grain-bins, i. 138 sq. ; the shumbwa, i. 

Grandchildren, i. 320.^., 339, 342 

Grandparents, i. 320 ; my power over 
their persons and property, i. 339 

Grass-fires, annual, i. 4, 11 

Gratitude, ii. 315 



Grave, digging of, ii. 104 ; shape of, ii. 

106; "temples," ii. 120, 171 
Gray, Rev. S. D. , photos by, i. 204, 

Greed, ii. 315 
Groves, around grave (mabwabwa), ii. 

120 ; consecrated to demigods, ii. 

183 sq. 
Guardian, rights and duties of, i. 386 ; 

children under, i. 391 ; receives chiko, 

ii. 50 
Guardian Spirit. See Genius 
Guns, medicine for, i. 262 

Hades (kubashikufwa), ii. 119 sqq. 

Hail, ii. 221 

Hair, colour and texture of, i. 63, 71, 
75 sq. ; shaving, i. 63, ii. 47 ; on 
pubes and in armpits, plucked out, i. 
65, ii. 59 ; on body, i. 65 sq. ; when 
not cut, i. 63, 207 ; sign of robustness, 
i. 66 ; buried, i. 66 ; a fault to pull 
out, i. 373 

Hairdressing, styles of, i. 69 sq. , 77 sq. 
See Impumbe, Isusu 

Handicrafts, i. 180 sqq. 

Handley, G. F. B. , i. 18 ; photos by, i. 
4. 6, 19 

Hands and feet, i. 61 

Harding, Col. C. , i. 55 

Hare (Sulwe), in tales, ii. 100 sq., 339, 

359. 3 6l > 3 66 - 375 S Q1- '< brains of, 

used as remedy, i. 241 sq. 
Harvest, i. 138, 140 ; offerings, ii. 180 
Hazell, Mr., i. 27 n. 
Head, shaven after death, ii. 104 
Head-dress. See Impumbe, Isusu 
Heart, functions of, i. 225 sq. 
Heat, endurance of, i. 88 
Heath, L. C, ii. 137 
Heir, to chief, selection of, i. 299 sqq. 
Hemp, Indian, i. 152 
Hewetson, Dr., i. 66 sqq. 
" Hiding the life," i. 255 sq. 
Hippopotami, in Kafue, i. 12 ; hunting, 

i. 156 ; skin used as charm, i. 278 ; 

tales of, ii. 372, 377 
Hoes, i. 219 ; ceremonial, i. 101 
Holub, Dr., i. 49 sqq., 96, 123 
Homburger, Mile. H., cited, ii. 282 sq. 
" Home," equivalent for (uko), i. 286 
Homicide, i. 412 sqq. , ii. 187; not im- 
puted at Isanti, i. 417 sq. 
Honeyguide (Solwe), in tales, ii. 355, 357 
Hornbill, ground (Momba), in tales, ii. 

374, 380 sq. 
Hospitality, i. 364 sq. , ii. 312 
Humour, ideas and sense of, ii. 344 sq. 
Hunger, endurance of, i. 88 
Hunting, methods of, i. 153 sqq. ; rights 

to the meat, i. 384 ; a game, ii. 237 ; 

prohibitions, ii. 4 ; prayer to Leza in, 
ii. 209 
"Husband" (mu-lum., ba-), used by 
cousins, i. 318 sq. ; of grandson, i. 
321 ; of initiator, ii. 31 ; of objects, i. 

Huts, description of, i. 114 sq. ; built 
for the manes, i. 113, ii. 120, 171 
(see Grave, "temples ") ; for prophets, 
ii. 144, 196 ; for Bulongo, ii. 194 sqq. ; 
are open, i. 364 ; entering at night, i. 

Hyena, tales of, ii. 381, 383 ; dung of, as 
remedy, i. 240 

Ichila, lists of chiefs at, i. 57 

Ikowela, i. 295 

" Ila," meaning of, i. xxv sq. 

Images, ii. 169 

Immunisation from snake-bite, i. 247 sq. 

Impande (round base of shell), i. 26, 
35, 101 sq. 

Impemba (a white substance), i. 106, 
177, 232, 252 

Impotence, how caused, i. 226 ; pre- 
vention of, i. 278 ; treatment of, i. 227, 
277 ; what follows, ii. 70 

Impumbe (head-dress), i. 71, ii. 34 ; re- 
newed, i. jj ; ornamented, i. 103 ; 
corn hid in, i. 40 

Incest, horror of, ii. 41 ; between children 
of two sisters, i. 318 ; between bazhile, 
balamu, bakwe, i. 340 sq. ; ordeiedby 
doctor, i. 261, ii. 41, 84. See ii. 40 

Indavu, game of, ii. 21 sq. 

Indecencies of speech, i. 377 sqq. 

Indecorum (chisapi), i. 346 ; offences of, 
i. 374 sqq. 

Independence, spirit of, i. 16, 361 

Infanticide, i. 419 sq. , ii. 39. See ii. 

Inhabitants, ancient, i. 17 sq. 

Inheritance, i. 303, 305, 390 sqq. 

Initiation, ii. 18 sqq. 

Inkaya (ivory armlets), i. 101 ; imita- 
tion, i. 102 ; making of, i. 180 sqq. 

Inoculation, i. 247 sq. , 168, 266 

Insanda (breast of animal), significance 
of, i. 384 

Instruction, to initiates, ii. 20, 25, 31 
sqq. ; to bride and bridegroom, ii. 
57 sq. 

International Phonetic Association, ii. 
277 sq. 

Intimidation, i. 350 

Inzuikizhi (witchcraft medicine), i. 252, 
264, ii. 92, 96 

Iron-ore, i. 202 

Iron-work, i. 202 sqq., 211 sqq. 

Irony, ii. 313 

Isambwe (= talisman), i. 251 



Isho-dia-mwino, ii. 182 

Isusu (coiffure en cornet, tall head- 
dress), origin of, i. 16 ; effect of, on 
countenance, i. 61 ; construction of, 
i. 71 sqq. ; tied up to rafters, i. 82 

Itoshi (fabulous river monster), ii. 128 
sq. ; figures of, on huts, i. 120 ; Bakubi 
turn into, i. 289 

Ivory-working, i. 180 sqq. 

Jackal, in tales, ii. 358, 368, 386, 391 
Jacottet, Rev. E. , cited, ii. 282, 284, 

367. 379. 389. 398 
Jalla, Rev. A., cited, i. xxv, 28 n. 
James, Prof. W. , quoted, ii. 40, 80 
Jealousy, ii. 65 sq. ; disease caused by, 

i. 235 
Johnston, Sir H. H., i. 18, 288, ii. 

129 «., 277, 351, 363 
Junod, Rev. H. A., cited, i. 272 

Kabulamwanda, Sebitwane at, i. 29 ; 

Lewanika at, i. 42 ; Holub at, i. 50 ; 

list of chiefs at, i. 57 
Kabulwebulvve, chief of Bambwela, i. 25 
Kafue plain, i. 3 sqq., 4, 6, 13 

Kafue River ( = Kavuvu), meaning of 

name, i. 3 ; description of, i. 5 sq. ; 

railway bridge over, i. 6, 7 (photo) ; 

photos of, i. 5, 6, 8 ; ="Loengue," 

" Cafucue," i. 46 ?i. ; cause of floods, 

i. 9 sq. ; lagoon of, i. 20 ; fish in, i. 159 
Kafue valley, malaria in, i. n 
Kafungo, disease, i. 234, 276, 279, 403 
Kaingu, chief at Itumbi, i. 40 ; mis- 
named Cainco by Pinto, i. 46 n. , and 

Cahinga by Porto, i. 47 n. 
Kale, chief of Bambwela, i. 25 sq. 
Kameko, secondary clan, i. 295 
Kamwale (" maiden "), nerve of elephant 

tusk, i. 168 
Kamwaya tree (" disperser," " scat- 

terer"), i. 235, 264, 345, ii. 85 
Kantengwa, i. 54 ; list of chiefs at, i. 57 
Kanyemba, chief of Bachikundi, i. 44 
Kapidi, chief of Baluba, i. 25 sq. 
Kasale, a very rich woman, i. 381 
Kasempa, chief of Bakaundi, i. 27 
Kasenga, Sebitwane at, i. 29 ; raided by 

Makololo, i. 33 ; Lewanika at, i. 42 ; 

Holub at, i. 50 ; scene at (photo), i. 

15 ; list of chiefs at, i. 57 
Katanga, copper mines, i. 26, ii. 223 
Kerswell, Mrs., cited, i. 54 //. 
Kerswell, Rev. J., photo by, i. 70 
Kidd, D., i. 298 
Kilns (inganzo), for smelting iron, i. 

204, 206 (photos) 

* These technical Ila terms are verhs in the 
without kit or kiv. the sign of that mood ; thus 

King Edward Mine, i. 17 

Knots, i. 184, 186 

Kubadikila,* ii. 47 

Kubola, i. 132 

Kuchompa, ii. 38, 60 

Kudimba, ii. 95 

Kudipena, ii. 20 

Kudishita, i. 256 

Kuditaya, i. 346 

Kudivhunga, ii. 18 

Kufumba, i. 179, 366 

Kufwenezha, ii. 55 sqq. 

Kuila, i. xxv, xxvi, 347 

Kukamba, i. 362 

Kukoma, ii. 28 

Kukona, i. 303, 390 

Kukunama, ii. 200 

Kukwata, ii. 140 

Kulabula, i. 371 

Kulela, i. 307 

Kulumbula, Kulumbuzha, i. 257 

Kunanga, i. 385 

Kunjidila mukaintu, i. 374 

Kuntuba, list of chiefs at, i. 58 

Kuombwezha, i. 355 

Kupampa, i. 179 

Kupuka, ii. 209 

Kupupulula, ii. 168 

Kusala, i. 359 

Kusansumuna, i. 378, ii. 25 n. 

Kusaulula, i. 416 

Kuseluka, i. 20 sq. 

Kusena, Kusenana, ii. 69 

Kushinga, ii. 28 

Kushinshima, ii. 140 

Kushisha, i. 350 ; instances of, i. 396, 

Kushokolola, i. 369 
Kushoma, ii. 167 
Kushomausha, i. 376 
Kusoma, Kusomya, i. 140, ii. 179 
Kutangaza, ii. 62 
Kutonda, i. 347. See Taboo 
Kutuka, i. 227, 369, 374 
Kutwila, i. 364 
Kuvhubula, i. 390 
Kuweza lubono, i. 382 
Kuwila, i. 131, ii. 189 
Kuyumbula, i. 364 
Kuzaluka, ii. 21 
Kuzunga, i. 372 
Kwenzha, i. 171 sq. 
Kwinda, Kwindauka, i. 251, 256, ii. 96 

Labour, division of, i. 114, 117 sq. , 

136 sq., 139 
Land, belongs to community, i. 387 ; 

apportioned, i. 387 ; sold, i. 388 ; 

trespass upon, i. 388 

infinitive mood ; they may be found in the text 
badikila, inda. 



Language, the Ila, ii. 277 sqq. ; closest 
affinities of, i. 18 ; words in, express- 
ing approval and disapproval, i. 343 

Lathe, for ivory-turning, i. 180 sqq. 

Lechwe, vast herds of, i. 12 ; hunting, 
i. 155 ; skins of, as dress, i. 98 

Leech, ii. 224 ; in tale, ii. 363 sq. 

Legend of the Banampongo, i. 20 ; of 
the old woman who sought God, ii. 

Leglets, i. 101 sq. 

Leopard, tale of, ii. 369 

Leprosy, i. 232 ; medicine for, i. 277 

Leselo, i. 34 «., 45 (photo) 

Levellers, ii. 316 

Lewanika (Lobosi), chief of Barotsi, 
supports Nyambo, i. 24 ; birth, ac- 
cession, policy, and death of, i. 41 ; 
raids the Ba-ila, i. 42 sqq. ; frees 
slaves, i. 411 ; sees the Lengongole, 
ii. 129 

Leza (the Supreme Being), ii. 197 sqq.; 
name, i. 18 ; customs established by, 
i. 345 ; his family and " death," ii. 
102 ; son of, ii. 144 sqq. ; causes 
disease, i. 232, 245 ; death ascribed 
to, i. 268, 357 ; gives medicine for 
propagating the; race, i. 258, ii. 102 ; 
clan named from, i. 311 ; angry, ii. 
145 ; prayers addressed to, i. 162, 
ii. 1 ; offerings made to, i. 168 ; named 
in oaths, i. 355 ; in songs, ii. 273 ; in 
proverbs, ii. 322 ; in riddles, ii. 325 
sq. , 329 sq. ; in children's sayings, i. 
242 ; in myths and folk-tales, ii. 102, 

"• 345- 347 sqq., 391 

Life (bumi), associated with genitals, i. 
226 ; hidden away, i. 256 

" Life-token," i. 255 sqq. 

Lightning, ii. 204 sq., 220 ; medicine to 
ward off, i. 261 

Lions, habits of, i. 12 ; cattle killed by, 
i. 14, 129, 158 ; hunted by natives, 
i. 14, 158 ; name of, i. 289 ; men 
turn into, ii. 124 sqq.; tales of, ii. 
378, 382 sq., 385. 387 sq., 394, 398, 

Litigiousness of Ba-ila, i. 360 

Livingstone, Dr., at Linyanti, i. 38 ; his 
account of the Mambari, i. 39 ; his 
map of the Zambesi, i. 47 ; his ser- 
vant, Mukubu, i. 29 ; impression left 
by, on native mind, i. 47 ; his teach- 
ing, ii. 146; cited, i. 28 «., 33; 
quoted, i. 38 sq., ii. 357 

Load-carrying, i. 87 

Lobengula, chief of the Matabele, i. 46, 

Locusts, i. 143 sq., ii. 225 

Longo (Shianamwenda), Basala chief- 
tainess and prophetess, i. 29, ii. 142 

Loss of property, i. 393 

Love-philtres, i.' 249 sq. 

Lubambo, ii. 67 sq. 

Lubanda, conflict at, i. 23 

Lubeta, description and occasions of, 

i. 35 1 ■"/•> 387 
Lubwe, village at, i. 109 sq. ; list of 

chiefs at, i. 57 
Luck, i. 252, 262 sq., ii. 219 
Lucky-hand (chesha), i. 139 
Lukono, i. 303, 390, 392 
Luloa (blood-offering), i. 411, 417, ii. 

187, 192, 211 sq. 
Lulonga, Holub at, i. 50, 52 
Lunacy, i. 239 
Lunda country, i. 25 ; Munyama came 

from, i. 26 n. 
Lusasa (or chibinde), ii. 61 sq. 
Lushinga, i- 231 
Lutango, Barotsi leader, i. 41 
Luvhumwe, i. 243, ii. n 
Lwando, i. 161, 169 
Lwanga (sacred forked pole, "village 

altar"), ii. 15 6 . 172, 177; cooking at, 

i. 262 
Lwanzu (or Chanzu), ii. 137 
Lwembe (blood-money, weregild), for 

homicide, i. 359, 417, ii. 72 ; for 

feticide, i. 418 sq. ; for burning village, 

i. 404 
Lying, characteristic of Ba-ila, i. 378 sq. 

Mabamba, warrior's belt, i. 106 
Mabwabwa, ii. 120 (photo) 
Macgregor, J. C, cited, i. 28 ». 
Madan, A. C., cited, ii. 292, 296, 367, 

379. 388 

Madyanshima, ii. 55 

Mafwele, list of chiefs at, i. 58 

" Magic," " Magical," i. 222, 255, 346 ; 
effect of beans, i. 205 ; why the words 
are not used in later chapters, ii. 80 

Makobo, isle of, i. 8 

Makololo (Sebitwane's people), attack 
Batonga, i. 28 ; kill Sezongo, i. 35 sq. ; 
attack Chimbulamukoa, i. 40 ; raid 
Ba-ila, i. 40 ; exterminated, i. 41 

Mala, district of, i. 54 ; chiefs at, i. 57 

Malaria, i. 11, 234 

Malumbe, a demigod, i. 57, ii. 182 

Malweza, definition of, i. 347 ; instances 
of, i. 420, 423, ii. 86 sq. 

Mambari, slave traders, among the Ba- 
ila, i. 36, 39 ; beads introduced by, 
i. 106 

Mampuba ("awe"), ii. 168 

Manes' huts, i. 113. See Grave, 
' ' temples " 

Manimbwa, i. 36, 42 

Mankoya, i. xxvii. 94 ; clans, i. 313 

Mantembe, poisonous drink, i. 35 



Mantimbwa, instrument, ii. 21 sq., 262 

Mantombwa, game of, ii. 36 sqq. 

Marriage, discussed by clan, i. 297 ; 
ceremonies, ii. 54 sqq. ; of a widower 
and of a widow, ii. 60 sq. ; of chief's 
daughter and of a chief, ii. 63 ; of 
slave, i. 408 sq. , ii. 64 ; of widow to 
whom you have no right, i. 374 ; 
allowed between offspring of brother 
and sister respectively not between 
offspring of two sisters, i. 318 ; other 
restrictions, i. 293, ii. 41 ; happy, 
ii. 75 n. ; proverbs about, ii. 59, 320. 
See Sexual relations 

Masamba, a charm, i. 261 

Masansa, ii. 56, 58 

Mashukulumbwe, name given by Barotsi 
to Ba-ila ( = Bashikulompo), meaning 
of, i. xxv, 42 

Mason-wasp, ii. 345 sq. 

Massage, practised, i. 230 sq. 

Masturbation, ii. 29, 74 

Masunto, oxen killed at funeral, i. 130, 
ii. no 

Matabele, fight Sebitwane, i. 30 sq. ; 
massacred by Sezongo I., i. 35 ; raid 
the Ba-ila, i. 44 sqq. ; Ba-ila helpless 
against, i. 178 

Matjokotjoko, Matabele name for Ba-ila, 
i. xxv 

Matongo, deserted sites, ii. 123 

Matushi, vilifications, i. 374 ; examples 

of. i. 375 •*¥• 
Mbeza, Sebitwane at, i. 29 ; Barotsi 

defeated at, i. 44 ; Holub at, i. 50 
Mbololo, last of Makololo chiefs, i. 41 
Meal, how prepared, i. 146 
Mealies (=maize), how grown, i. 137 
Meals, times and description of, i. 


Measles, i. 232 

Meat, eaten, liking for, i. 144 sq. ; how 
cooked, i. 147 

Medicine (mu-samo, mi-), meaning of 
word, i. 222 ; faith in, i. 228 sq., 252 ; 
methods of administration, i. 230 jy/. ; 
classification of, i. 229, 250 sq. ; lists 
of names of, i. 232 sqq. , 275 sqq. ; 
powe*rs of, ii. 84 ; damage to another's, 
is buditazhi, i. 395 ; taboos attached 
to, i. 231, 255 ; curse attached to, 
i. 254 ; addressed, i. 249, 262, ii. 
8 5- 93 I offerings made to, i. 262 ; 
derived from trees, etc., i. 229; 
from skunk, ii. 360 ; from frogs, 
ii. 228 ; from excrement, i. 232, 240, 
242 ; used in smelting iron, i. 203 sq. , 
209, 278 ; in hunting, i. 167 sq. , 260, 
262, 277 sq. ; in fishing, i. 161, 169, 
279 ; in blacksmithing, i. 219 sq. , 278 ; 
in making butter, i. 277 ; m turning 

ivory, i. 182 ; in agriculture, i. 277 ; 
in divination, i. 266, .269 sq. ; in 
initiation, ii. 21, 30 ; in rain-making, 
ii. 209 ; in war, i. 178 sq. , 263, 278 sq. ; 
for protecting and increasing cattle, 
i. 129, 253 ; for propagating the 
species (luzhalo), i. 258, ii. 102 ; for 
impotence, i. 227, 277 ; love-philtres, 
i. 249 sq. ; to induce conception, 
i. 228, 276, 280, ii. 2 ; to induce 
abortion, i. 250, 419 ; after abortion, 
ii. 6; for overdue menstruation, i. 277 ; 
for midwifery, i. 277 ; given to preg- 
nant woman and husband, ii. 2, 5 ; 
during parturition, i. 277, ii. 7, 8 ; 
given to new-born child, ii. 10 sq. ; for 
bewitching, ii. 95 ; for avoiding and 
curing witchcraft, i. 253, 259 .r</., 275, 
277 sqq. , 300 ; for general well-being, 
i. 259 ; good luck, i. 261, 263 ; 
insambwe, i. 395 ; for wealth, i. 381 ; 
for making rich and famous, i. 263 ; 
for use in court, i. 264 ; to soften and 
defend from enemies, i. 259 sq. ; to 
obviate result of ordeal, i. 356 ; poured 
into images, ii. 169 ; for rebellion, i. 

263 ; to cause unhappiness, i. 264 ; 
to keep away thieves, i. 277 ; for 
snake-bites, i. I for purification, 
i. 169 ; for hardening one's heart, 
i. 259 ; against lightning, i. 261 ; for 
protecting chief, i. 300 sq. , 307; for 
ensuring prosperity and popularity, 
i. 253, 260 sq. ; for protecting village, 
i. 301, ii. 178 ; for defending com- 
mune, i. 178, 254 ; for long life, i. 259 ; 
for hiding the "life," i. 256; for 
kulumbuzha, i. 257 ; for feeding on 
life-substance of others, i. 258 ; to 
draw life from trees, i. 258 ; for seeing 
ghost, ii. 122 ; for purging ghost, 
ii. 168 sq. ; for stupefying ghost, i. 

264 ; for keeping off, driving off ghost, 
i. 179, ii. 168 ; for transforming dead 
into animals, etc., i. 264, 381, ii. 125, 
130 ; for wiping out family, i. 264 ; 
for sudden death, i. 265 ; for resuscita- 
tion, i. 265, ii. 103 (lwende) ; for seeing 
itoshi, ii. 129 ; references to, in folk- 
tales, ii. 416 

Mediums, ii. 140, 150, 188, 194. See 

Meinhof, cited, ii. 282, 284, 286, 288 
Menstruating women, taboo, i. 207 ; 

clouts of, used as remedy, i. 239 ; not 

to approach gun in house, i. 262 ; 

warnings against, i. 262 sq. ; drive 

away tsetse, ii. 27 
Menstruation, medicine for overdue, 

i. 277 ; taboos, ii. 21, 26 sq. 
Metals, ii. 222 



Metamorphosis, ii. 124 ; tales of, ii. 

345 sqq. , 403 
Metempsychosis, ii. 124 sq. ; connection 

with Totemism, i. 289 ; example of, 

i. 381 
Micturition, position in, i. 83 ; upon 

another, an offence, i. 373 ; disease 

caused by, i. 238 sq. 
Midwifery, medicines used in, i. 250, 

277 ; practice of, ii. 7 sqq. 
Milk, i. 130, 144 ; disease so named, 

i. 239 
Milking, i. 129 
Milky Way, ii. 219 
Millipede, ii. 224 
Mimicry : mimic fights, i. 172 ; in games, 

ii. 245 ; in dances, ii. 270 
Mizhimo (sing. muzhimo) = divinities, 

demigods, q.v. , ii. 164 sqq. ; places 

consecrated to, ii. 169 sq. ; images, 

ii. 169 ; customs derived from, i. 345 
Mobukwano, chief of Barotsi, i. 31 
Mole, ii. 89 
Months, names of, ii. 216 sq. ; work done 

in various, i. 141 
Monze, Livingstone at, i. 47 ; B.S.A. 

police camp at, i. 54 
Moon, ii. 217 sqq. 
Mortality, infant, ii. 13 
Mosquitoes, i. 11, ii. 225 
Mpepe, Sebit wane's nephew, i. 33 sq., 

40, 63 
Mudimbe ("a pressed one "), ii. 93 
Mufufuma, "violet-tree," i. 137, 254, 

276, ii. 30 
Mufwebabachazi, i. 229, 421 sq. 
Mukaku, woman's ceremonial girdle, 

i. 99 sq. 
Mukubu, Livingstone's servant, i. 29, 

30 (photo), 32 
Mukwashi (pi. mi-), mounds of ash, i. 129; 

father's family, i. 284 
Mukwe, bakwe : "son-, daughter-in- 
law," i. 340 
Mukwesu, meaning of, i. 317 
Mukwetunga, ii. 63 
Mulambwa, Barotsi chief, i. 32, 34 
Munambala, father of Shimunenga, i. 22 
Munangombe, Makololo leader, i. 33 
Mungaila I. , chief at Kasenga, i. 54 
Mungailall., i. 55; photo of, i. 56; 

" life " hidden, i. 256 ; was a slave, i. 

304 ; at a lubeta, i. 351 ; his praise 

titles, i. 367 ; as a mourner, ii. 109 
Mungalo, "our friend," quarrel with 

Mungaila, exile and death, i. 54 sq. ; 

his age, i. 62 sq. ; as a spoon-carver, i. 

200 ; his family, i. 284 ; his totem, i. 

291 ; at lubeta, i. 351 sq. ; total ab- 
stainer, i. 349 ; as a raconteur, ii. 336 ; 

what he said about bananas, ii. 89 ; 

about corpse, ,ii. 104 ; about asking 

questions, i. 379; about tuyobela, ii. 132 
Munyama, chief and demigod, from 

Lunda, i. 26 n. , ii. 182 sq. 
Munyati, chief at Mbeza, i. 29 
Munyuni, a doctor, i. 247 
Mupuka (pi. Bapuka), meaning of, i. 

224 ; in body, bashimpulukutwi, shiu 

and Chibumba, i. 224 sqq. ; causes 

convulsions, i. 239 ; disease so named, i. 

240 ; in pool, i. 389 ; in river ( = itoshi), 

ii. 129 ; in trees, ant-hills, etc., ii. 131 
Mupumani, a prophet, ii. 147 sq. 
Murder, origin of (folk-tale), ii. 350. See 

Homicide, etc. 
Musamo. See Medicine 
Muscular development, i. 61 ; power, i. 

Mu-sela (pi. mi-). See Age-grade 
Mu-semu (pi. mi-), central pole of hut, 

i. 116; offerings at, ii. 173, 176 
Mushidi (Msidi), history of, i. 26 sq. ; 

attacks Kasempa, i. 27 
Mu-shinshimi (pi. ba-). See Prophets 
Musical instruments, ii. 262 sqq. 
Mutaka, ceremonial hoe, i. 101 
Mutenda, list of chiefs at, i. 58 
Mutilation, when practised, i. 358 
Mutumbu, taboos on, ii. 12 
Mutumbwe Hill, Baluba settle at, i. 26 
Muvhumenzhi, pool, i. 388 
Muyumusho, ii. 46 sq., 50 
Muzazani, Mukololo leader, i. 33 
Mu-zhimo (pi. Mi-), divinity, demigod, q.v. 
Mwana-Leza (child of God), ii. 144^^. ; 

in tale, ii. 347 
Mwanawina, Barotsi chief, i. 41 
Mwazhi, ordeal poison, i. 356, ii. 94 ; 

appealed to, i. 357 
Mwine-mbushi, lake, i. 20 
Myths, of origin of death, ii. 100 sq. ; 

other etiological, ii. 337 sqq. 

Nachilomwe, mother of Shimunenga, i. 

22, ii. 183 
Nachisanto, a demi-goddess, ii. 182 
Nails (of hand), i. 66 
Nakabanga, chief at Busangu, i. 33 
Nakatunga, sacred spot, ii. 186 
Nakedness, of Ba-ila men, i. 96 sq. 
Namadindi, Sezongo killed at, i. 35 sq. 
Namaumbwe, battle at, i. 23 
Nambala Mountain, i. 9, 37 (photo) 
Name (i-zhina, ma-), various kinds of, 
i. 365 sqq. ; belief about, i. 239 ; con- 
nection between and object, i. 254, ii. 
85 ; to call a person out of his, i. 370 ; 
given to cattle, i. 128; rules concern- 
ing, i. 365 sqq. ; tabooed, i. 367 sq. ; 
given at birth, i. 365, ii. 152 sq. ; men 
with feminine, etc., ii. 154 ; " eating " 



the, i. 168, 303 ; "enters," i. 239, ii. 

85 ; new, given to bride, ii. 55, 56, 71 ; 

to slave, ii. 173 
Namesake, i. 369; = genius, ii. 156 
Namwala, Government station, i. 20 
Nanzela, people of. See Balumbu 
Ndongola, mineral springs, i. 9 
Necklaces, worn by women, i. 101 
Needle (insonde), in hair, i. 106 
Nets, fishing, i. 163 sq. , 186 
Ngabo.warat, i. 23 ; list of chiefs at, i. 57 
Nicholls, G. H., photos by, i. 98 sq. , 

172 sqq. , ii. 238 sqq. 
Nicknames (mazhina a champi), i. 288, 

310 n., 312 n., 365 
Nkala, first missionaries arrive at, i. 54 ; 

police camp at, i. 55 
Nocturnal emission, i. 207, 373 
Nose-blowing, i. 86 
Numbers, system of, ii. 231 
Nyambo, war of, with Chiyadila, i. 24 ; 

Sebitwaneat, i. 29 ; raided byMakololo, 

i. 33 ; Holub at, i. 50 ; list of chiefs 

at, i. 57 

Oaths, kinds of, i. 355 ; taken on back 
of head, i. 224 

Offences, against customary laws, i. 350 ; 
buditazhi, i. 370 

Offerings (chi-paizho, shi-), the word, ii. 
174 ; placed at graves, ii. 120, 171, 
180 ; at lwanga, ii. 172, 177 ; at gate- 
way, i. 113, ii. 173 ; at groves, ii. 187 ; 
made when eating, i. 145 ; after killing 
elephant, i. 168 ; before war, i. 176 ; 
after battle, i. 178 ; at fishing, i. 389 ; 
at sowing, ii. 188 sq. ; at harvest, ii. 
179 ; after sneezing, ii. 156 ; other 
occasions, ii. 174 sq. ; things offered, 
ii. 174; made to divinities, i. 113, 
168, 389, ii. 172, 174 sqq. ; to genius, 
i. 156; to the dead, ii. 105; to ghost, 
ii. 123 ; to demigod, ii. 181, 188 ; to 
Bulongo, ii. 194 ; to Leza, i. 168, ii. 
210 sq. ; to ghost of elephant, i. 168 ; 
to medicines, i. 262 

Omens, good and bad, i. 162, ii. 86 sq. , 
122 ; in dream, ii. 135 sq. 

Onomatopes, ii. 296, 355 

Onomatopoeic vocables, ii. 292 sqq. 

Ordeal, trial by, i. 356 sq. 

Organs of body, names for and functions 
of, i. 222 sqq. 

Oribi, tale of, ii. 360 

Ornamentation, of huts, i. 119 sqq. ; of 
grain-bins, i. 139 ; of pots, i. 194 ; 
of pipe-bowls, i. 195 ; of woodwork, 
etc. , i. 201 

Ornaments, i. 99 sqq. ; men's, i. 101 sq. ; 
on and in houses i., 1195;/.; on cattle, 
i. 128 

Orunda, Kele word for taboo, i. 18 
Oswell, W. C. , at Linyanti, i. 38 
Outlawry, as punishment, i. 358 
Owl, reckoned a mulozhi, ii. 88 
Ownership, spiritual, i. 388 sq. 

Paederasty, ii. 74 

Paintings in houses, i. 121 

Palms, kinds and uses of, i. 185 

Path, stepping off, i. 363 ; dividing of, i. 
139. See Cross-roads 

Perfumes, i. 94 

Perjurer, guilty of buditazhi, i. 355 

Personality, ii. 81 ; of divinities, ii. 164 ; 
of Leza, ii. 204 sqq. See ii. 162 

Personification, ii. 339 

Perversions, sexual, ii. 74 

Pheasants, i. 137 

Phlebotomy, i. 231 

Pickering, Rev. F. , i. 54 

Pigeons, domesticated, i. 134. See Dove- 

Pillows, wooden, i. 82 ; taboo, i. 82 

Pipe-bowls, i. 195 sqq. 

Pipes, for tobacco, i. 152, 195 ; for 
hemp, i. 152 

Places, sacred, ii. 169 sqq. 

Plantain-eater (induba), feathers worn, 
i. 104 sqq., 179, ii. 88 

Plato, ii. 15572., 158, 299 n. 

Pleiades (Bulezhi), i. 137, 140, ii. 217 

Pluck, examples of, i. 158 sq. ; medicine 
to give, i. 168 

Polygyny, ii. 64 sqq. 

Population, i. 15, 313 sqq. ; why so 
small, i. 15 sq. , i. 22 

Porridge, how made, i. 146 

Portuguese travellers, i. 46, 49 

Possession, spirit, ii. 136 sqq. 

Pots, earthenware,- making of, i. 191 sqq. ; 
baking of, i. 194 ; names of, i. 195 ; 
on huts, significance of, i. 118 ; used 
in divination, i. 268 sq. 271 

Praise-names (-titles), i. 365 sq. ; the 
authors', i. 366 ; of Buffalo, i. 288 ; 
of Malumbe, ii. 182; of Shimunenga, 
ii. 183, 189 ; of Leza, ii. 201 sqq. ; of 
Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus, ii. 378; 
of Hare, ii. 381 

Prayer, offered at the fishing, i. 162 ; of 
thanksgiving after victory, i. 178 ; ad- 
dressed to the mwazhi, i. 357 ; offered 
by doctor, i. 274 ; offered by trapper, 
i. 278 ; to Leza, i. 162, ii. 176, 209 
sqq. ; quoted, ii. 176, 178, 180, 210 
sq. , 220 ; for rain, ii. 220 ; not offered 
by man for wife, i. 293 

Pregnancy, ii. 1 sqq. ; taboos, ri. 10 sq.\ 
previous to menstruation, ii. 39 

Price, Mrs. J. W. , ii. 9 

Price, Rev. J., photo by, ii. 273 



"Priest," " Priesthood," ii. 178, 187 

Property, how acquired, i. 380 sqq. ; held 

by women, i. 380 ; communal, i. 387 

sq. ; offences against, i. 392 sqq. ; held 

by slave, i. 411 

Prophets, ii. 140 sqq., 208; and customs, 

i. 345, ii. 141 
Prostitution, i. 382, 410, ii. 73 
Proverbs, list of, ii. 311 sqq. ; quoted, i. 
293, 302, 3045?., 358, 374, 400, 413, 
ii. 17, 59, 113, 385 
Punishments, i. 358 sq. ; capital, i. 413 
Purification, of lwando, i. 169 ; of 
warriors, i. 179 ; of defaulting smelter, 
i. 207 ; from abortion, ii. 6 ; of grave- 
diggers, ii. 105; of village, ii. 116 sq. 
Puzzles, ii. 262 

Rain, ii. 205, 221 j^when falls, i. 9 
Rainbow, ii. 220 
Rainfall, the, i. 9 
Rain-making, i. 135, ii. 208 
Ransom, for slaves, i. 400 sqq. 
Rapacity of Ba-ila, i. 360, 400 
Rape, ii. 74 
Rats in village, i. 121 ; and good luck, 

i. 263 
Razor (lu-mo, i-), i. 63, 219 
Razzias suffered by Ba-ila, Kasempa, i. 

27 ; Barotsi, i. 32, 42 sq. ; Makololo, 

i. 33 ; Bashituchila, i. 32 ; Matabele, 

i. 44 sq. 
Reincarnation, i. 365, ii. 152, 180 ; 

ancestors descended for, i. 21 ; man 

only reborn through sons, ii. 2 ; how 

affects heir, i. 304 
Relationship, terms of, i. 316 sqq. ; 

falsely to claim, i. 370 
Religion, i. 113, ii. 80 sqq. , 207. See 

Divinities, Leza, etc. 
Remedies, i. 232 sqq. 
Reproduction, process of, i. 226 sqq. 
Resentment (inkoto), i. 389 ; medicine 

for, i. 259 
Retaliation, i. 350 
Rhinoceros, where found, i. 11; tales 

of, ii. 372, 377 
Rhodesia Scientific Association, i. 17, 

66 n. , 69 
Riddles, list of, ii. 324 sqq. 
Ridicule, susceptibility to, i. 375, ii. 312 
Rinderpest, i. 46, 130 
Ringdove, tales of, ii. 351, 353 
Rings, worn by women, i. 101 ; by men, 

i. T02 
Roads, meeting of, ii. 30 ; dividing of, 

ii. 5. See Cross-roads 
Ryan, B. , photos by, i. 201 sq. 

Sacred spots, at graves, ii. 120, 171 sqq. ; 
lwanga, ii. 172; in hut, ii. 173; at 

gateway, ii. 173 ; groves of demigods, 

ii. 183^.; Nakatunda, ii. 186 
Sacrifices, i. 113, 132 ; in connection 

with fishing, i. 388. See Offerings 
Sa'id ibn Habib (Saidi), i. 33, 40 
Saliva, as offering, ii. 156, 174 
Salt, how prepared, i. 148 
Salutations, i. 362 ; a new, ii. 152 
Sanctions of morality, i. 343 sqq. I 
Sanctuaries, i. 359 
Sanitation, i. 92 sqq. 
Scorpion, ii. 224 
Sea, ideas of, ii. 223 
Seasons, ii. 217 ; dry and wet, i. 9 ; 

work done in, i. 141 
Sebitwane, chief of Makololo, history of, 

i. 28 sq. ; invades Bwila, i. 28 sq., 33 ; 

fights Matabele, i. 29 sqq. ; invades 

Barotsi, i. 31 ; invades Bulumbu, i. 36 ; 

his death, i. 38 
Seclusion, of mother, ii. 105 sq. ; of in- 
itiates, ii. 18 sq. , 23 
Secretary bird (nakansakwe), ii. 88 
Segregation of patients, i. 231 sq. 
Sekeletu, chief of Makololo, attacks 

Ba-ila, i. 40 ; and Longo, ii. 142 ; 

death of, i. 41 
Self-complacency of Ba-ila, i. 16 
Selous, F. C. , travels of, i. 53 ; quoted, 

i. 44, 53 n. 
Senicide, i. 416 
Sepopa, chief of Barotsi, i. 41 ; raids 

Ba-ila, i. 41 ; killed, i. 41 
Serpa Pinto, quoted, i. 46 n. 
Sexual attraction, ii. 45 ; inversion, ii. 

74 ; relations, promiscuity of, i. 16 ; 

restrictions upon, ii. 41 sqq. ; when 

forbidden, i. 169, 176, 206 sq. , 231 

sq., 261, 263, 293, 338 sqq., ii. 4, 6, 

12 sq. , 41 sq. , 43, 69; ideas of, ii. 

35 sq. ; before marriage, ii. 36 sqq. , 

48 ; dangers of, ii. 11, 58, 61. 

See Adultery, Incest, Lubambo, 

Sezongo I., chief of Balumbu, i. 34 ; 

massacres Matabele, i. 35 ; meaning 

of name, i. 35 ; death of, i. 35 sq. 
Sezongo II. (Munaswaba), settles at 

Manimbwa, i. 36 sq. ; death of, i. 38 ; 

life renewed from tree, i. 258 ; turned 

into lions, ii. 126 ; reborn, ii. 127 ; 

his grave, ii. 171, 127 (photo) 
Sezongo III. and IV., i. 38 
Shachibinzha, Balumbu chief, i. 34 
Shade, Shadow, Shadow - soul (chi- 

ngvhule, shi-), i. 234, 271, ii. 87, 

93, 162, 212 
Shakamwale, ii. 19, 21 
Shaloba, chief of Lubwe, i. 43, 109, in 

(photo), 123 
Shamabuyu, ancient grooves near, i. 18 



Shaving, i. 63 ; sign of adulthood, i. 70 ; 

of corpse, ii. 104 ; of widow, ii. 62 
Sheep, i. 134 

Shezhimwe, a bogle, ii. 17, 413 
Shichonka, mupuka so named, ii. 131 
Shimakoma, African cobra, i. 246 
Shimunenga, demigod, i. 22, 417, ii. 

68, 150, 152, 180, 183 sqq. 
Sisters, how addressed, i. 317 
"Sisters-in-law" (bazhile), i. 339 
Sitatunga, in Kafue swamps, i. 12 
Skin, colour of, i. 59 
Skin-dressing, i. 183 
Skunk, as a charm, i. 263 ; tale of, ii. 


Slaves, Slavery, i. 398 sqq. ; mean- 
ing of name (mu-zhike, ba-), i. 299 ; 
may become chiefs, i. 304 ; people 
seized as, i. 174 ; why made, i. 395 ; 
inherited, i. 392 ; paid as fines, i. 400 ; 
make themselves such, i. 400^. ; how 
change masters, i. 370, 399, 411 ; 
female, piteous sight, i. 61, 4O8 ; 
rights of, i. 408 ; marriage of, i. 408 
sqq., ii. 64; rite of binding, ii. 172; 
proverb about, ii. 317 

Slave-trade, Sezongo and, i. 35 ; Arabs 
and Mam bar i engaged in, i. 39 sq. , 
398 ; local, i. 399 ; disease introduced 
by, i. 232 ; put down by B.S.A. 
Company, i. 55 

Slighting, an offence, i. 376 

Smell, sense of, i. 91 

Smelting iron, i. 202 sqq. 

Smith, Mrs. E. W., i. 54 n., 366 n., 
ii. 15 

Smith, Rev. E. W., his Handbook of 
Ila Language quoted, i. 288, ii. 277 

Snake-bite, i. 245 sqq. 

Snakes, varieties of, i. 14, ii. 228 sq. ; 
as ornament on huts, i. 120 ; on grain- 
bins, i. 139 

Snuff, i. 152 

Social organisation, i. 283 sqq. 

Sodomy, i. 373, ii. 74 

Songs, Singing, ii. 269; at iron-smelting, 
i. 208; at funerals, ii. 111 ; lewd, when 
permitted, ii. 84, 272 ; other, ii. 8 sq. , 

21, 37, 187, 191, 209, 273 

" Soul," ii. 162 

Spears, names of, i. 215 ; throwing, i. 

87, ii. 242 ; etiquette of, i. 363 ; 

fish-, making of, i. 213 sqq. 
Spiders, ii. 224 ; cause erythema, i. 241 
Spirits, evil {see Ghosts) ; nature, ii. 


Spitting, in oaths, Thu ! i. 355 ; medi- 
cine, i. 162 
Squanderers rebuked, ii. 316 
Squirrel, talcs of, ii. 357 sq. 
Stars, ii. 219 

Sterility, i. 16, 228, ii. 1, 70 

Strings, i. 183 sqq. 

Subliminal consciousness, ii. 159 

Succession to chiefship, i. 303 

Suggestion, practised by doctors, i. 274 ; 

in witchcraft, ii. 97 sq. 
Suicide, Suicides, i. 421, ii. 75 n. , 114; 

burial of, ii. 116 ; instance of, i. 416 
Sun, the, ii. 218 
Swamps, of Kafue, i. 10 sq. 
Swearing, false, disease caused by, i. 

Sweetbread, when not eaten, i. 145 
Swimming, i. 92 
Syphilis, medicine for, i. 277 

Taboo (kutonda, kuila, kuzhila), mean- 
ing of word ila, i. xxv, xxvi ; pro- 
venance of word tonda, i. 18 ; defini- 
tion, i. 347 ; difference between tonda 
and buditazhi, i. 347, ii. 81 ; classifica- 
tion of, i. 348 sq. ; and danger, ii. 83 ; 
ascribed to Leza, i. 233 ; shaving, 
i. 63 ; plucking out body hair, i. 
66 ; pillows, i. 82 ; day after first 
rains, i. 139, ii. 209 ; fire, i. 142 
sq., 210; foods, i. 149 sqq. , 255, 
ii. 3, 17 ; fruits, i. 150 ; water, i. 207, 
ii. 221 ; beer, i. 238 ; fat, i. 238 ; 
barbs of fish, i. 238 ; meat, i. 233, 
255, 261 sq. , ii. 3, 17 ; fishers, i. 169; 
warriors, i. 176 ; iron-smelters, i. 206 
sq. ; lepers, i. 232 ; boundaries, i. 387 ; 
prayers, i. 293 ; marriage, i. 293, 
ii. 26 ; abortion, i. 348 ; names, i. 
365 sqq., ii. 153; matushi, i. 374 
sqq. ; twins, i. 405 ; spilling blood, i. 
414 ; cutting teeth, i. 420 ; suicide, i. 
423 ; striking a stone, i. 258 ; associ- 
ated with pots, i.. 258 ; medicine, ii. 5 ; 
medicine receptacle, ii. 6 ; pregnancy, 
ii. 2 sq., 11 ; birth, ii. 7 sq. ; nursing 
mother, ii. 12 ; asking about children, 
ii. 14 ; children, ii. 17 sq. ; initiation, 
ii. 19, 21, 26 ; menstruation, i. 207, 
ii. 26 sq. ; mantombwa game, ii. 38 ; 
connection with immature girls, ii. 38 ; 
father to claim damages for daughter's 
illegitimate pregnancy, ii. 40 ; incest, 
ii. 41 ; mother-in-law, ii. 60 ; rela- 
tions, i. 318, 338, 341 ; bakwe, i. 
341 ; widower and widow, ii. 61 sq. ; 
places, ii. 131, 186 ; Kamwaya and 
Mabanga, ii. 85 sq. ; Chinao, ii. 87 ; 
secretary bird, ii. 88 ; Chivubavuba 
and mole, ii. 89 ; to see certain snakes, 
ii. 229 ; new-fangled things, ii. 88 sq. ; 
the moon, ii. 219 ; associated with 
drugs and charms, i. 231, 255, 258, 
261 ; disease caused by breaking, i. 
241, 244 



Tales, of incest, ii. 42 sq. ; of men turn- 
ing into lions, ii. 124 ; of lad given 
medicine, ii. 84 sq. ; of ghost, ii. 133. 
See Folk-tales 

Talismans (i-sambwe, ma-), i. 250 sqq. 
See Medicine 

Tasting food, i. 364 

Tata (my father), i. 319 

Taylor, Rev. H. J., cited, i. 54 n. 

Teeth, bad condition of, i. 66 sq. ; 
practice of knocking out, i. 69, 94 sqq. ; 
effects of, i. 69 ; cleaning, i. 92 

Termites, i. 121, ii. 226 

Testicles (i-bolo, ma-), eaten by warrior, 
i. 177 ; cut off and thrown away, i. 
178 ; see ii. 30 ; tale of elephant's, ii. 

Theal, Dr., i. 289 

Theft, i. 393 ; medicine to prevent, i. 277 

Thu ! and Tsu ! meaning of, ii. 174 ; 
when used, i. 355, ii. 156, 176, 218, 

Ticks, ii. 225 

Time, reckoning, ii. 215 

Tobacco, i. 152 

Tomtit (intite), tale of, ii. 374 

Torrend, Father, ii. 277 

Tortoise, tales of, ii. 340^^., 370, 373, 
375. 39° I medicine against lightning, 
i. 261 ; for sudden death, i. 265 

Totemism, i. 287 sqq. ; and metempsy- 
chosis, i. 289 ; Dr. Theal's theory, i. 
289 ; Sir James Frazer's theory, i. 
291 ; and religion, i. 293 sq. 

Totems, list of, i. 310 sqq. ; respect 
shown to, i. 294 

Touch, sense of, i. 92 

Traps, for hippopotamus, i. 156 ; other, 

'• z 57 
Trees, named, i. 185, 196 sq., 203, 11. 

18, 23, etc. 
Trespass, i. 388 
Tribal marks, i. 94 sq. 
Trophies, of warriors, i. 177 sqq. ; put 

on lwanga, ii. 172 
Truth, regard for, i. 378 
Tsetse fly, driven away by menstruating 

women, ii. 27 
Types, physical, i. 59. See Frontispiece, 

vol. i. and photo, i. 60 

Umbilical cord, ii. 8, 9 

Umziligazi (Moselekatse), Matabele chief, 

i. 28, 32 
Uncle (Uachisha), position and power of, 

i. 319 sq. 
Uncle Remus, ii. 340, 342, 353, 378^., 


Vanity, reproved, ii. 313 
Vapour bath, i. ^30 

Venereal disease, i. 238 ; medicine, for 

i. 277 
Vengeance no crime, i. 417 
Venus, the planet, ii. 219 
Victoria Falls, i. 17 
Vilification, i. 374 ; when permitted, i. 

Village, description of, i. 109 sq. ; new, 

removal to, ii. 178 
Vital spots, i. 223 
Vow, of friendship, i. 308 

Walenje (Beni Mukuni), i. xxvii ; clans, 

i- 313 

Warfare, i. 170 sqq. 

Warlock, detected, i. 268, 272 ; chief 
becomes, i. 301. See Witchcraft 

Warrior, medicines for, i. 263, 278 sq. 

Wart-hog, hunting the, i. 158 ; in tales, 
ii. 363 sq. 

Water, ii. 221 ; ordeal of boiling, i. 356 

Water-lily, roots of, used as medicine, i. 
240 ; for making snuff, i. 152 

Weaning, ii. 12 

Weasel, tale of, ii. 368 

Weeks, Rev. J. H. , cited, ii. 332 ;/. 

Weregild (Lwembe, q.v.), i. 359 

Werner, Miss A., quoted, ii. 379 

Westermarck, Prof., theory of incest, ii. 
43 ; quoted, ii. 65 

Whirlwind, ii. 221, 325 

Whiteness and luck, i. 252 

Widow, inherited, i. 390 sq. ; remarriage 
of, ii. 62 ; marrying one to whom you 
have no right, i. 374 

Widower, remarriage of, i. 391, ii. 
60 sq. 

Wife, Wives, how called, i. 339 ; distinc- 
tions between, ii. 67 ; lent to guest, 
i. 365, ii. 69 ; inherited, i. 390 sq. ; 
exchange of, ii. 69 ; abduction of, i. 

" Wife," used figuratively by doctor dur- 
ing smelting, i. 207, 210 ; by cousins, 
i. 318 sq. ; of granddaughter, i. 321 ; 
of wife of grandson, i. 342 ; of col- 
lateral grandmother, i. 339 ; of objects, 
i. 369 

Winds, names of, ii. 221 

Witchcraft (bu-lozhi), ii. 90 sqq.; disease 
caused by, i. 234, 236 ; preventives 
of, i. 253, 259 sq., 278 sq., 300 sq.; 
medicine (to operate), i. 252, 264, 
301 ; medicine (to cure), i. 275, 279 ; 
accusation of, a great fault, i. 371 ; 
detection of, i. 268, 272, 356 ; death 
as penalty for, i. 358 sq. 

Witness, false, i. 371 

Women, handsome figures of, i. 61 ; 
clothing of i. 98 ; ornaments of, i. 99 
sqq. ; their work, i. 114, 187, 191, 381 



diseases of, i. 238 sq. ; hold property, 
i. 380 ; no right to their children, i. 
384 ; inherit, i. 390 ; inherited, i. 390 
sq. ; suffer under inheritance laws, i. 
391 ; assault of sleeping, i. 393 ; 
names applied to : mutumbu, ii. 12, 
namauwa, ii. 38, nakasomona, ii. 39, 
namatezi, ii. 62 ; who die in child- 
birth, burial of, ii. 114; who die 
pregnant, burial of, ii. 114 sq. 

Woodwork, i. 196, ii. 262 sqq. 
Worthington, F. V., i. 39 «., ii. 98, 129 

Xylophone, ii. 263 

Yaws, i. 232 

Year, i. 140, ii. 216 ; new, ii. 189 

Zambesi River, i. 6, 28, 32 
Zebra, tale of, ii. 368 


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